Lambeth Leisure Explained. Sort of…

The Good Councillor and some other bloke

I rather enjoyed interviewing Councillor Nigel Haselden, Deputy Cabinet Member for Sustainability at Lambeth Council. We clashed on a number of points during our conversation, but I found the good Councillor to be charming company, and very transparent in trying to make some sort of sense out of Lambeth Labour’s current confused leisure policy.

We disagreed over the interpretation, and implication, of Lambeth Council being forced to shut Streatham Leisure Centre, and then being dictated to by private developer Cathedral Group as to when to shut Clap’ham Leisure Centre.

I simply failed to see the “success story” that Councillor Haselden was trying to spin out of the current closure of Brixton Rec, less than three years after the £2m plus refurbishment.

And so with Tesco in control of leisure in Streatham, and Cathedral Group calling the shots in Clap’ham, I was keen to find out what the pay off is for the private company in SW4.

I asked Councillor Haselden what the benefit is for Cathedral Group in the whole Future Clap’ham project. The answer of: “When they sell their posh flats on top of the High Street” tells you all you need know about the priorities of Lambeth Labour – selling off valued council land to the high end of the private sector.

We also touched on the Keep Clap’ham Swimming election manifesto that returned three Labour councillors in the Clap’ham Town ward back in 2006. Councillor Haselden confirmed that this is an election pledge that Lambeth Labour plans to stick with at the next set of local elections in May of this year. Ultimately it will be the fine people of Lambeth who will pass judgement on this promise.

The good Councillor expressed that he was “alarmed by my conclusion” that Lambeth Labour has lost control of leisure in the borough. I stand by this assertion. The “slight hiccup” of only having two hours in the morning when a pool is open in Lambeth would seem to favour my observations.

But yes – it was very decent of Councillor Haselden to argue his cause, and I am more than happy to provide a platform on m’blog for an elected official to explain the current situation. Plus also a big heads up for the ever-wonderful @mayoroflambeth for pulling the strings behind the scenes, and setting up the interview.


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