Round the Houses

Another miserable Monday evening, another @lambeth_council cabinet meeting. I really should change the strap line for m’blog to: ‘Attending council meetings so that *proper* local media don’t have to.’ Or even ‘so that certain opposition parties in the Rotten Borough don’t have to.’

Blimey.

Battling for your attention on the agenda for Monday evening was the land match for Myatts Field North PFI (land swap with local NHS,) primary school expansion (all rather positive) and the Lambeth Sustainability Action Plan (chasing the Green vote.)

The Green agenda has got legs, especially so with only fourteen weeks until polling day. To be fair, @lambeth_council does recycling rather well, as I tweeted (oh yes) during cabinet.

Comedy however is not the strong point of @cllrstevereed.

But anyway…

The main business of the evening was the setting of housing rent for council tenants for the coming year. Talk about a political hot potato. Rent rises are the Spud U Like of Lambeth. Housing will ultimately decide which political party (or even parties – *get you*) will govern in Lambeth as from 7th May.

Our friends in the current Labour administration are all too aware of this. A 5% rent rise was recommended, only to be rather hurriedly downsized to a more voter friendly 3.1%, just as the polling registration cards are starting to come through the letterboxes. Strange, that.

The poor old LibDem opposition didn’t know what to make of the good news story. Maybe the good Councillor Lumsden did, it’s just that I didn’t really know what to make of what he was trying to make of the motion.

You’ve lowered rent rises! You scoundrels!

Yep, it’s a positive story, albeit a cynical one. I couldn’t but help look back to my calendar twelve months previous when the 14% rent rise went through, with a full year still left to run for the Labour party to be in power.

And so a reduction in rent money coming into the council coffers, and something has to give. Repairs? Ah, I see. That was the point that the good Councillor Lumsden was trying to make. The LibDems claimed that repairs wouldn’t be carried out on the crumbling council stock until sometime next summer. The accusation was that this was a temporary housing budget, bulldozed through, just in time for the election.

You don’t say!

Come early summer, and the good Councillor Lumsden and his Love Me I’m a Liberal Lot are rather concerned that they will inherit the £1.2m housing deficit that we have Labour to thank for.

I don’t think that Keith Hill, the outgoing Labour MP for Streatham will be too happy with his local Lambeth Labour colleagues either. In a direct parallel to Obama @ChukaUmunna getting rather peeved at how the local Labour party are damaging his chances come polling day, Keith Hill will be left to clear up the housing mess in a couple of months time.

Having trousered the old boys job of the head of Lambeth Living (pimped out council stock,) the Right Honourable Member for Streatham will now be left with a reduction in rent, and growing budgets to be met. Warnings of up to seventy job losses from the frontline of Lambeth Living staff have already been made.

I can’t but help think that Lambeth Living would do better in waving bye bye to the private consultants that currently take home £700 per HOUR. An invoice was produced at cabinet from a housing campaigner. The obscene amount was up for debate, but £700 per hour or per day (it was actually per hour) would surely make dear old Olive Morris light the touch paper from the beyond grave, to end the farce of the privatisation of housing in the Rotten Borough.

And what of the empty properties in Lambeth? A recent FOI request revealed that out of all the empty properties in the whole of London, one in five are within Lambeth. You can’t make a profit with your reduced rent rise on an empty property. Councillor Lib Peck, Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, didn’t make any reference to the empty stock during her cabinet speech; likewise it wasn’t mentioned in the latest issue of Lambeth Life.

And that really was about yer lot. I appreciated a good catch up offline with the good @CllrMarkBennett come close of business. We talked about swimming, the Streatham Hub project and my white Y-fronts at Brixton Rec.

Blimey.

The good Councillor was brave and honest enough to state that he agreed with @ChukaUmunna’s analysis of the “unsatisfactory” handling of leisure in Lambeth. He confirmed that he should be at the meeting to discuss the way ahead for the Hub this Wednesday. So should you if you have any interest in swimming, ice-skating or even, um, supermarket shopping in SW16.

The Labour cabinet then gave the nod to @CllrMarkBennett to “attend business in room 101.”

Seriously.

What on earth do our elected representatives keep up there? A brand new Clap’ham pool? A state of the art Streatham Ice Rink? Or maybe just a stronger 3G signal than the one I was struggling with for two hours at cabinet?

It’s the final cabinet meeting for this administration next month. We’ll miss them when they’re gone. Won’t we?

4 thoughts on “Round the Houses

  1. Years ago I was a local newspaper reporter. It’s only when you live in a place where the local press doesn’t bother with reporting council meetings that you realise what an important job it is. So thanks for keeping us posted – and with sound principles and good humour.

  2. Recycling good – nothing has happened to it in four years:

    2001 – Labour lose control leaving recycling rate at 8%.

    2005 – Lib Dems lose control leaving recycling rate at 24%.

    2009 – Labour about to lose control leaving recycling rate at 25%.

    Shame on them!

  3. It is humorous. It makes me wonder about what the press coverage of Governments in the world who share your poltiics is like, but of course, we can’t know, as they don’t now (or have not ever) allowed such coverage.

    Perhaps it answers the puzzler of all your rants: you do such a noble job of demonstrating how Government in control of anything inevitably do a poor job. So what is the solution? More Government ownership and control!

    Er, no thanks. Especially not more of the left wing types you chew up and spit out here. The Conservatives are gaining ground thanks to you. Well done!

  4. @Ian I’m not looking for a ‘solution,’ just merely making observations. It’s got to be better than staying in on a Monday night and watching Eastenders.

    If the Tories *really* are gaining ground in Lambeth (c’mon!) then nope, it’s not down to me. It’s because of the complete failure of a right wing Labour administration in the Rotten Borough.

    To sit back and allow them to privatise leisure, education and housing through the back door, would not sit easy with my own personal conscious. I voted this bunch of jokers in power, and I’m appalled at what they have done in the name of the party I was once a member of.

    Conservatives gaining ground? It really makes no difference, to be honest. Lambeth Labour are very similar in political outlook to the blue rinse mob.

    The rantings of a one man blog aren’t going to change anything. But I feel happier knowing that I have offered my thoughts on what is actually happening around Lambeth.

    You mock my coverage. Sounds like your solution is censorship.

    Yours, in struggle etc…

    Jason

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