Word Up

Lambeth Labour wordle

Heads up from the rather decent @cllr_robbins for pinging me a copy of the freshly printed @LambethLabour local election manifesto. I’m never convinced precisely what a wordle can tell you about the underlining arguments in any document. I don’t think however the prominent placing of ‘Lib’ in the Lambeth Labour manifesto is a reference to the Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration.

I actually eyeballed the Holy Grail of South London politics at cabinet last night (the Labour manifesto, not the good Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration.) Town Hall etiquette stopped me from grabbing the document, doing a runner and then reading it via torchlight underneath the bed sheets like a guilty school boy.

But you needn’t feel smutty about reading what our friends from the red part (arf) of the borough are planning. All information is good, even when it has to be read with an open mind, as is the case with most party election manifestos.

Sixteen pages, a whopping 18MB in pdf format (oh, go on then – you can snaffle a copy over here) and get this: FOUR pictures of swimming pools.

Blimey.

With only one pool currently open in the borough (and even then with a bonkers 7am-9am timetable) it’s a bit rich for @LambethLabour to be putting up a pretty picture gallery of pools to try and win over the voters.

Leisure

p.9 of the manifesto is put aside specifically for leisure. The pledges / claims made include:

Labour will renew Lambeth’s crumbling old leisure centres and build an Olympic legacy by giving more people the chance to get involved in sport.

Too many of our existing leisure centres and pools are on their last legs – so Labour will rebuild them and build brand new facilities in areas where’s there’s currently no provision.

Fighting talk, but you have to ask who was responsible in the first place for the crumbling old leisure centres to be left to rot away in, um, the Rotten Borough.

That rather nice Labour PPC, @ChukaUmunna has it spot on when he calls it as:

The fact is that Council administrations of all different political persuasions have not invested enough in the pool for a long time and they should all be big enough to admit as much.”

I can’t but help think that yer man Chuka *may* be wasted on Westminster.

Streatham and Clap’ham are rightfully placed at the top of the agenda in terms of @LambethLabour’s achievements. New pools are coming, but cripes, the pain they put us through, not to mention the endless delays…

West Norwood and Waterloo get name checked for future new pool builds (nothing legally binding as yet.) The old Lilian Baylis site is given a rather vague description of ‘being under community control.’

And then there’s Brixton.

Complete upgrade works to Brixton Rec.

Blimey.

That will be the £2.7m complete upgrade from 2007, which was three months behind schedule, and was such a bodget and scarper job that it has led to the delay of the current re-opening of the Rec because:

A number of failures in the work previously undertaken during earlier refurbishment were discovered.

But the real Speedo elastic breaking moment has to be the manifesto pledge of:

Free swimming for every resident at specific times.

Cripes.

Given that you can only swim in Lambeth during the very specific time of 7am – 9am right now, I wonder how soon after May 6th this promise will be implemented, should Labour retain control of the council?

And who will fund this free swimming for all? I certainly hope the very nice folk at GLL have been consulted about this. I posed the question via twitter to the good @cllrstevereed earlier. His response was:

Steve Reed

So the free swimming seems more like a taster session to explore the new facilities, which won’t be open until 2011 in Clap’ham and 2012 in Streatham. Not so much free swimming for all then throughout the four years of the next administration, but a voter friendly sound bite slipped into an election manifesto.

Which to be fair, is precisely the point of election manifestos…

Elsewhere in the manifesto, and p.5 could prove to be something of a legal minefield. The allegation that: ‘Lambeth LibDems tried to legalise kerb crawling’ is repeated.

Allegation

It is this exact very same allegation that gave Councillor Lumsden, the leader of @LambethLibDems cause to remark at a recent full council meeting:

“A complaint to the standards committee will be made if it [the allegation] is repeated at any stage by the opposition during the election campaign.”

@LambethLabour is either calling the bluff of the opposition leader, or jumping the gun when it comes to printing the manifesto. Once again, @cllrstevereed justified the inclusion of the allegation, kindly replying via twitter:

Steve Reed

The allegation is disturbing enough, but voters need to remember the deep-rooted political battle upon which this statement has been repeated, and now published.

The defence of @LambethLabour in publishing Lambeth Life is that it doesn’t want to line the pockets of a local newspaper by placing council statutory ads in a publication that carries calling cards for prostitutes.

@cllrstevereed asked Councillor Lumdsen at the recent full council meeting if a LibDem led council would place the ads in the paper that benefits from the exploitation of women. It was a fair question to pose, and one that Councillor Lumsden failed to answer, apart from making the threats about the allegation being repeated.

Now that the issue is out there in the public domain, via the Labour manifesto, I hope Councillor Lumdsen can confirm or deny the policy of his party with regards placing statutory council ads in @SthLondonPress. Labour needs to publish the public record to back up the allegation, and then hopefully the campaign can move on to talk about the continued regeneration of the borough.

Oh, and don’t forget that if @SthLondonPress wasn’t so smutty, then the whole debate would become redundant.

p.4 of the election pledge is put aside for some chest beating over the freezing of Council Tax. A fine move, but a waste of a page, when all you need to know is published over here.

Twenty-four local authorities in London have frozen Council Tax; five councils have actually decreased it.

p.12 tries to explain the current housing crisis in Lambeth. There is no mention of “housing contracts not working,” as the Cabinet Member for Housing admitted at cabinet last night.

The bluster of the John Lewis partnership style of government, as heralded in with a Guardian front-page splash last month, seems to have been hidden away with little hype. You have to stick with the manifesto all the way through until the penultimate p.15 to get any mention of cooperative government.

But let’s look towards the future. There are some extremely positive points to be found in the manifesto:

Labour is the fastest improving council in the country.

Although if you start from a low base…

Zero tolerance of anti-social behaviour.

Cut crime by boosting neighbourhood police teams.

The Community Safety Panels really are rather ace.

Lobby government to protect funding for Sure Start children’s centres.

GCSE results up 9% in one year, beating the national average.

Credit to the teachers and the pupils, rather than the politicians though…

And so good work @cllr_robbins and @LambethLabour in sending my way your manifesto. It will be uploaded to the good folk at @democlub, and then revisited over the future months, *should* Labour retain control of @lambeth_council.

It would be jolly decent for local democracy to be able to do a similar analysis of the manifestos from our friends at @LambethLibDems and *cough* @lambethnews (Lambeth Tories…)

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