Rejoice! Hang the bunting outside Lambeth Town Hall! I’ve found the mythical fool’s gold here in La La Lambeth Land. Lucky me. Looks like the leisure “success story” than Labour Councillor Nigel Haselden was trying to spin out to me last week can be found right here on my doorstep.
Fresh off the printing press, and the latest issue of ‘information newssheet’ Lambeth Life leads with the good news story of a “12m long temporary pool” being loaned out to the disused Lilian Baylis old school site in Kennington.
Well slap me in the face with a wet pair of Speedos and force me to have a cold shower with the entire Labour led Lambeth cabinet.
I knew our good friends at @lambeth_council wouldn’t let us down. The good Councillor Haselden stressed that he was “alarmed at my observations” that the leisure policy in Lambeth has failed the electorate.
I thought I was being objective in my observations. Streatham and Clap’ham pools are both shut, and Brixton is the only place in the Rotten Borough where Lambeth residents can now swim (but only between 7-9am, and with no recognised changing room.)
But nope. Looks like the two-month loan of a Lego swimming pool in Lambeth is the success story I’ve been searching for. Councillor Haselden mocked the idea of a temporary pool after we had finished recording our podcast. Seems like his Labour colleague Rachel Heywood, Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities, hadn’t informed her colleague of the Kennington paddling pool.
Any swim is a good swim, but twelve metres is just poxy. A kick off from one side of the temporary structure and then you’ve touched down at the other end. With the local election looming, it’s this exact form of panic-driven policies that has come to be the legacy of the current administration.
Whatever next? Tents at Brockwell Park to cover up the £1m spunked up the wall to housing consultants during a six-month period last year? Something wicked this way comes. It’s called a ballot paper and so best make sure that temporary arrangements are in place, to see us through until May.
It is with apt timing that Lambeth Life has decided to share the leisure “success” story on the exact same day that the Audit Commission took the spineless decision to allow local authorities to continue to publish this blatant form of political propaganda.
A front-page picture led splash (aha!) in Lambeth Life, yet diddly squat mention of the closure of the three main pools in the Borough. I’m surprised that my Lambeth Life delivery boy doesn’t actually knock on the door wearing a big red rosette, grinning like a buffoon and asking to kiss a baby before leaving me with the latest Lambeth Labour endorsed literature.
Oh, and top marks for the use of kids swimming in the La La Lambeth Land Lego Pool for the picture. Once again it has been conveniently forgotten that the current administration pulled down the 25m pool at Stockwell Park High School, despite concerns from local Labour MP Kate Tally Hoey. It really is saying something if it takes the fragrant Tally Hoey to tick of an administration for cutting public services.
And so the good people of Lambeth are left with a temporary Lego pool in the Rotten Borough, and a local election looming. Leisure shouldn’t be a political hot potato; it should be something that any local authority supports and funds, aware of the wider benefits to the local community.
The electorate can see the privatisation of leisure in Lambeth by the Labour administration as evidence where priorities lay for the current party in power. Knee jerk policies as the election looms are always the sure sign of a party that is sinking. Even in a poxy 12m temporary Lego pool.