“One of the key campaign issues in Lambeth has been the regeneration of the borough and the future of our pools and other leisure facilities. Many local residents will be heading to the ballot box on May 6th with memories of LibDem inaction as they watched Streatham Leisure Centre crumble without any secure plans to replace it and will recall their attempts to sell Brixton Rec and Clapham swimming pool to property developers when they ran the council with Tory support.”
The re-writing of the leisure agenda in the past four years by our friends from @LambethLabour is almost on par with the dodgy data that has cropped up over in the Herne Hill election leaflets.
To use Nu Labour language, the complete meltdown of leisure in Lambeth is hardly a case of fixing the ceiling whilst the sun was shining. If that were so, the closure of Streatham Leisure Centre last year would never have happened. The roof fell in on the good people of SW16 – quite literally.
It is hypocrisy of the highest order to claim otherwise, when you consider that it was the Cathedral Group that closed Clap’ham with only two weeks notice on New Year’s Eve, having finally secured the funds to build private property on council owned land.
“A vote for them [LibDems] threatens this hard-won progress as their infuriating idleness saw leisure facilities languish when they were in charge.”
Streatham closed, Clap’ham closed and Brixton barely open since January. I note that the manifesto pledge of: “free swimming for every resident” is now no longer repeated in the @LambethLabour leisure literature.
No worries – if we wake up with a red flag flying over Lambeth Town Hall towards the end of next week, I’ll be first in the queue at the Rec, clutching the @LambethLabour manifesto and demanding my free dip in the kiddie piss pool.
Perhaps the only positive side to come out of the whole Streatham Hub fiasco has been @LambethLabour’s ability to unite the local community. Sustainable Streatham, Streatham Society, Streatham Festival, Friends of Streatham Common, the Open Spaces Society, and Streatham Action – all have joined forces to fight the plan to place the temporary ice rink slap bang in the middle of Streatham Common.
The Streatham and Clap’ham projects may have progressed in recent weeks (funny that…) but let it not be forgotten that it is private capital that is now propping up leisure under @LambethLabour.
Pimping out your key community assets to big business, and then dressing it up as a cooperative council, seems like a one-way relationship to me. No public consultation (as promised) and no right of reply from the elected officials, should the free market throw a wobbler once again.
Hey hoe – sling out a press release and simply re-write leisure history within the Rotten Borough.
Hoey isn’t perfect (see voting record on homosexuality and lesbian rights) but then which MP’s are? Hoey was incredibly dignified at the Vauxhall hustings on Tuesday evening, with childish provocation from the Animal Protection party candidate.
The leaflet from the Animal Protection party’s PPC, James Kapetanos, makes some interesting points. It’s a shame that James wasn’t able to back them up, face to face, with the candidate he has been so critical of.
Hoey needs to be held to account on some of her more unsavourynon-South Londoninterests. Sadly I think the Animal Protection party has overlooked the wider picture, not to mention the opportunity.
*Friday 30th, 18:30 update*
More analysis over here on the ‘campaign’ being run by the APP.
And so what of the new facilities? I took a sneaky backstage tour a couple of weeks ago. The general layout remains as described in my previous post. More important though is how the architectural planning is actually bedding down in Brixton.
It’s very early days, but the early signs are promising. The changing rooms are sign posted very clearly – ladies, gents and families. The showers are superb – a genuine power shower experience.
We’ve regained the lost urinals at the top end of the gents that were mysteriously boarded up following the 2007 refurbishment. Space has been lost to the family changing area. The uncomfortable moments of having to share a gents changing room with fathers and their young female daughters is thankfully finally removed.
The complete re-tiling of both the floors and the walls look flash, but not for long. The area became extremely dirty during my brief time in the pool, not to mention incredibly slippery. I give it a week before an accident, or matting is put down.
So yeah – a positive experience, and one that was just about worth the wait. What it all means is that the Rec is now open during the daytime, with the bonkers 7am – 9am only public swimming timetable now consigned to a crazy period during the turbulent times at Brixton Rec.
The new changing rooms are far from perfect, but anything is going to be better than the “third-world” experience that was the hellhole of the temporary shoebox arrangements.
But that’s not the end of the story. The art installation at the front of the building is… running behind schedule. It leaves the Rec looking rather woeful from the exterior. I remain sceptical about how putting up giant fairy lights will improve the leisure experience, but hopefully it will make Station Road something of a safer environment.
And so two months behind schedule, and just in time for *ahem* May 6th, Brixton Rec is back in business. Just in time before I bugger off to @BrockwellLido for the summer seasom as well.
Meanwhile, a separate totally bonkers Brixton Rec story has come my way. You may remember my Swim From Hell in the darkness of Brixton Rec last weekend. In all the confusion and fumbling around, I forgot to blog about the bonkers robed up dudes that were splashing around in the teaching pool.
Nope, it wasn’t a lifeguard training session for men who enjoy wearing purple robes that wouldn’t look out of place on a Dr Who set, but a mass baptism by the Evangelical Church of Brixton.
My main gripe was in allowing valuable pool space to be used for a non-leisure activity, at a time when finding *anywhere* to swim in Lambeth is like trying to find the leisure holy grail.
The good folk of the Brixton Rec Users Group take a more hard-line stance. A formal complaint has been lodged with Greenwich Leisure Limited, stating:
“Why were they allowed to so publicly demonstrate their views in the Rec, which are offensive to many other users of different Christian and other religions, or no religion?
Why were they allowed them to wear full robes in the pool, which inevitably adds extra tissue and dirt to the water and potential health & safety hazard to subsequent users – or was the pool water completely changed immediately after and how long therefore was the pool closed to public use?
Why was it done in the busiest period of the week with hundreds of children at swimming lessons AND the other swimmers excluded from using the pool because of the same swimming lessons?”
This is a very serious issue, and I’m pleased that the Brixton Rec Users Group is confronting GLL over it. The Rastafarian University of Dub was told it was no longer welcome at the Rec, after the last £2.7m bodget and scarper refurbishment.
Now we are finding that other religious groups are allowed at the Rec, during peak times and flaunting their bonkers religion in front of the swimmers.
Scuba divers I can just about take. Bible bashers getting in my way as I put the lengths in – no thanks.
But yeah – the re-re-re-opening of Brixton Rec: not before time.
And so the final ever edition of Lambeth Life has rolled off the printing presses and been delivered to the good people of the borough – all for 5p per issue, as the masthead is ever keen to point out.
Ah, but will issue #92 really be a fond farewell for everyone’s favourite local information news sheet? Can Lambeth Life limp along to reach centurion status?
That all depends on the electorate, and whether @LambethLabour retains control of @lambeth_council (and Lambeth Life,) or whether @LambethLibDems are running the Town Hall on May 7th and implementing their manifesto policy of pulping the council publication.
[Still waiting for clarification as to exactly where the LibDems would place the local authority statutory ads an alternative to Lambeth Life. One would imagine that our friends at @SthLondonPress are also wondering the same.]
But anyway – Lambeth Life, the last hurrah. Does the flag waving newspaper for all that is brilliant in the borough, keep up the pretence for (possibly) one final fling?
First off – are we out of purdah? I only ask because the politically persuasive headline of Primary Places For All is the lead in the latest edition of Lambeth Life:
“Lambeth schools are performing well, which makes them a popular choice for parents all over London.”
Nodding my head in agreement at the fine work that teachers, support staff and of course the kids are putting in at Lambeth schools (with a little help from @LambethLabour), but hang on – “a popular choice for parents *all* over London?”
Um, shouldn’t Lambeth schools be for Lambeth kids? @LambethLabour has been quick to make political capital out of the building (and privatisation) of new schools in the borough.
Are we really building these new schools just so that some pushy parent across the *shhh* LibDem Southwark border can parachute Little Johnny into a decent Lambeth school?
And so the purdah friendly headline of: Primary Places For All is actually Primary Places For All of London – Not Just Lambeth.
It’s fine to boast about your rather good record in education, just be prepared for the consequences, should you shout about it a little *too* enthusiastically ahead of the election. It could come back to bite you on the backside when Lambeth kids can’t get a place in a Lambeth school ahead of the next local election.
Cash Counsellors is the headline in the panel on p2. Nope, it doesn’t refer to the Cash Councillors and the £40k a year that the career politicians in the @lambeth_council cabinet are trousering, but:
“A new service to help people get to grips with money is being offered in the borough.”
Immediately below is the Election Ward Finder. @janeinlondon / East Hampshire, of my local Oval / E Hants parish, may find some use for the:
“…new tool that makes it easier to find the polling station you need to cast your vote.”
The Lambeth Picture displays a rather decent photograph of some kids enjoying Windrush Square. The summer weather has really brightened up Brixton. Windrush Square *might* just become a central point for the community in which to meet.
The photo features a kid on a BMX riding through the water fountains – the cheeky scamp! Best stick to yer BMX, young lady. Skateboards are strictly out of bounds at Windrush Square, with local coppers coming down heavy on South London Yoof.
More serious matters are addressed under the headline of: Fire Safety Measures Stepped Up:
“Thousands of homes in Lambeth will be fitted with fire alarms this year as part of an ongoing initiative to improve safety.”
This is a move that can’t come soon enough, especially so considering the rather damning report that found that the council has only two fire certificates for the 112 housing blocks that come under the council stock.
Over to p5. and: Herne Hill Junction Almost Complete.
“A new junction designed to improve safety and cut down on tailbacks is now live [um, sort of...] Work has been going on at the Herne Hill junction opposite the entrance to Brockwell Park for almost a year.”
“Whenever they [@LambethLabour] spot a green space in the borough, they seem to want to build on it. They talk openly these days about the new, exciting and improved Herne Hill Road Junction, formerly known as Brockwell Park.”
Speaking of building upon green spaces, it is fitting that (possibly) the final edition of Lambeth Life has a Star Letter that licks the arse of Tesco and the compromise of a deal that allows the supermarket chain to build upon Streatham Common in return for an increased store space:
“Whilst I agree that it is far from ideal to have a temporary structure on the Common, am I the only one who thinks the overall Hub is a great opportunity for Streatham South?”
…asks Arabella McNeill of SW16.
Not at all. When / if the Hub is finally opened, I am sure it will be ace. It’s just the compromise deal to situate the continuity of ice provision, not to mention the temporary swimming pool and gym, on one of the last great green and treasured pieces of land in the borough that is so bruising.
Brilliant Brockwell is the headline for a second letter, with Keith Hindell agreeing that green space in Lambeth should be celebrated:
“In the fifty years of living in Dulwich I have never seen Brockwell Park look better. Everywhere the turf seems in good condition, for the dozen different sports being played informally, as well as sitting around for a picnic.”
Spot on. Brockwell Park is as brilliant as it is beautiful. The same goes for Vauxhall Park, Larkhall Park, Kennington Park and Clap’ham Common. The parks and public spaces in Lambeth are another success story in the borough over the past four years. Please let’s keep them green, rather than pimping them out as the pay off deal with giant supermarket chains.
How to Mend a Puncture on p15. is another great feature, with the friendly folk from Apex in Clap’ham giving a thirteen-point picture guide on how to do the dirty. I always seem to fall down around point number three. A decent and most useful use of local authority newspaper space.
Likewise for Wheels Start Rolling Again, the rather heart warming story on the back page of Lambeth Life, telling of how the Wheels for Wellbeing charity is back in business:
“A charity that lets people with disabilities enjoy cycling is back on track again, after an arson attack forced it to close last year. Wheels for Wellbeing began its Brockwell Park based cycle scheme last year, but was forced into an untimely closure when fire destroyed its base and all of its specially adapted bike.”
But will there be a similar happy ending for Lambeth Life? That is for the good people of Lambeth decide next week. Sure – there are more important issues to base your vote on, such as housing, education and the “financial tsunami” that is about to hit Lambeth PCT.
But a vote for @LambethLabour is also a vote for a return of the grinning politicians each fortnight, telling you exactly why they are worth £40k a year for a cabinet post.
A vote for @LambethLibDems is a vote for… well, I’m not entirely sure when it comes to Lambeth Life. The ‘information news sheet’ may be pulped, but what it will be replaced with is my concern.
And so here’s an update on how the local political landscape at Herne Hill *really* looks, once you have taken into account the admission by our friends at @Lambeth Labour of making up the data.
Many thanks to @adrianshort of the excellent @mashthestate for kindly making available to the SE24 electorate a more representative graph using the correct data.
You may remember how @JimDicksLambeth and his Herne Hill @LambethLabour lot were spreading the fear of vote Green, get the Tory bogeyman. The @LambethLabour leaflets showed a similar graph to the one above, except showing Labour to have 45% share of the vote, the Tories a laughable 40% and @LambethLibDems on 15%.
The Labour party in Streatham has mysteriously attributed the data to:
“Latest constituency voting figures.”
Latest form where exactly? The 29% share of the Tory vote, and the 13% LibDem showing certainly doesn’t match up with the previous general election, where ultra Blairite Keith Hill polled 46.7%, with the LibDems second on 28.3%.
Ah, I see…
The Labour party in Streatham (and I truly hope Chuka isn’t the main man behind this) has rather cheekily used data from the first choice preferences in the 2008 elections for the London Assembly, across *all* of Lambeth and Southwark. The LibDems did trail in third, but remember the only realistic choice two years ago was Ken Vs Boris. The LibDems didn’t get a look in.
Naughty, naughty, Chuka – using the election results for a different contest, held in a different patch and taking place two years ago, is hardly the “latest constituency voting figures.”
Still, at least it isn’t as bad as the downright lies being spun out by @LambethLabour back in Herne Hill and the admission by @JimDicksLambeth that the Herne Hill graph is:
“…an illustration of our view of the respective strengths of the three main national parties in this area.”
Which is Nu Labour speak for telling a pack of lies.
And so many thanks to @adrianshort for providing the proper Herne Hill graph, and also for giving me the heads up on @JimDicksLambeth. It seems that the current @LambethLabour Councillor has past form of political dirty tricks.
Smear the Greens, smear the LibDems, get… the Labour bogeyman?
The Oxbridge chap (Gyln Chambers made a point of mentioning this in his opening address) then raised a bonkers question about why crime has risen from 100,000 reported incidents one hundred years ago, to over four million in 2010.
Um, population expansion, an increase in laws and probably more Tories with their nasty right wing policies to criminalise people who are simply having a good time.
This was actually a rather ace event. It restored my faith in local democracy and my local area. It also *shhh* gave me some confidence in the sitting Labour MP, Kate Hoey (I think we can lose the Tally prefix now – Kate took enough stick on the night from James Kapetanos of the Animal Protection party.)
Given the ludicrous assertion by Daniel Lambert of the Socialist Party on poverty and domestic abuse, it was also rather reassuring to find the only other female candidate, the LibDem’s Caroline Pidgeon, to be on mighty fine form as well.
Elsewhere and @VoteDrinkall of the Anticapitalist party confirmed his credentials as a skilled, and yes, an intelligent public speaker. Joseph Healy of the Greens gained my support as he addressed the local Vauxhall constituency.
The English Democrats failed to show up (not very English, old boy.) Likewise for the Bible bashing Larna Martin of the Christian Party. You would have thought that holding a hustings in a church could have killed two birds with one stone.
The man with the mic for the evening was Mike Starkey, the Vicar of Vauxhall (crappy TV sitcom ahoy!) The Vauxhall Vic (“I use to be a radio DJ“) rather liked the sound of his own voice, not to mention paraphrasing questions from the floor.
In true hustings tradition, each candidate was given two minutes to put forward their case to represent the good people of Vauxhall at Westminster. The intelligent Tory Boy boasted of his IQ and campaigning skills, and then blew it by uttering:
@VoteDrinkall repeated his call to nationalise the banks and to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. In return, the Anticapitalist candidate pledged to spend the money saved on eradicating poverty from Vauxhall and building new homes. I rather like @VoteDrinkall’s connection between the international and the #hyperlocal.
Joseph Healy of the Greens described himself as:
“A community and health activist.”
He has the background and credentials to back up his claim. Healy called for a “new type of politics,” but added the disclaimer that a Green agenda is a radical approach, and not a Nick Clegg style surge for a voter friendly fresh agenda.
Kate Hoey (that wasn’t too hard now, was it?) proudly declared that she would stand on her previous Parliamentary record:
“I want to concentrate on the poorer parts of our constituency. My caseload is higher than most in the country. I campaign on community interests, and I help people who are not being heard by the local council.”
Here lies the rhetoric for the rest of the evening. Kapetanos was content to avoid any debate, much in the same way that Hoey was happy to avoid any eye contact with her would be political nemesis.
Daniel Lambert (nope, not *that* one) of the Socialist Party of GB introduced himself as promoting the “ethics of the family.” Tory Boy’s eyes lit up…
“We all have the same, shared needs. Families function if the workload is shared. When this breaks down, families become dysfunctional. Life is good – it’s worth a look.”
I thought Lambert was also worth a look, until he disgusted the entire audience at St Mark’s with his casual link between poverty and wife beating.
Caroline Pidgeon of the LibDems completed the candidate list. Given her transport brief at the London Assembly, Pidgeon spoke of her “disgust” at the Northern Line closures. She recognised the Clegg bounce, but was keen to offer up her own abilities as:
“An incredibly hard worker and a strong voice to represent the people of Vauxhall.”
The LibDem drew the most applause from the opening speeches.
The Vauxhall Vicar then did his best Alan Partridge Aha! and tried to steal the agendaoffered a semi-religious question for all of the candidates to answer:
“What is your moral compass?”
Note the omission of the prefix of political. My churchhouse, my rules etc, but I was hoping that most candidates would offer an answer that wasn’t tied down to some bonkers fairytale approach that was somehow linked to the rather dubious (and dangerous) issue of religion.
Tory Boy played by the rules and muttered some twaddle about “family and faith.” @VoteDrinkall urged for “the whole of humanity to share in the beauty of the world. We want to liberate the oppressed people of Vauxhall.”
And the vicars.
Green Healy stated that:
“I am not religious but I am spiritual. I have a reverence for the planet.”
Hoey confirmed her faith, whereas the fox loving, Hoey bashing Kapetanos, stuck by his stock trade answer for the evening of trying to out-score an incredibly experienced political opponent with cheap (and crap) gags about fox hunting. He failed, of course.
The “socialist code of the morality of the market” was the moral compass for Lambert. I don’t think he was talking about the rather wonderful Farmer’s Market staged outside St Mark’s every Saturday morning.
Caroline Pidgeon mentioned a “service to the community” as her guiding moral principle.
But enough of the politicians, what of the good people of Vauxhall? I have learnt at these hustings that you need to sit as close to the candidates as possible. If you can’t see the white (and fear) in their eyes, then they ‘aint gonna get yer vote.
Rule #2 is to always get the first question is. People will think you are either brave or bonkers. Or possibly even both. This is no bad thing.
So… deep breath:
It was quite a rambling question, but at least it gave Tory Boy the chance to get rather confused with the population rise and the way that we interact with one another as a community. This man is an Economist by day. I’m not sure what he is by night.
A rather deviously framed question asking simply about “the triangle” followed, put forward with the distinct aim of questioning the #hyperlocal knowledge of the candidates. The background is the threatened closure of the Triangle Adventure Playground close to the Archbishop Tenison’s School.
@VoteDrinkall wasn’t fooled and knew his patch well. Much the same for Hoey who blamed the “council machinery.” You can see why I was starting to rather warm to our *shhh* Labour friend.
Education was next up on the agenda. “I am proud of what we have achieved in Lambeth,” stated Hoey. Rightly so. Education and the massive improvement in exam results is one of the genuine success stories in the borough in recent years.
Tory Boy demonstrated his complete failure to grasp the local agenda, describing Lambeth as “below par” (education, not PPC’s.)
@VoteDrinkall drew upon his own status as a teaching assistant, congratulating teachers and support staff locally, but calling for an increase in funding.
By law and every hustings event has to have at least one bonkers moment. The hands on head moment on Wednesday involved calling the Vauxhall Vicar a w****r, and then giving away the secret address of the *very* nearby cabinet member Jack Straw.
“Should Tony Blair and Jack Straw be put on trial for war charges,” was the half-decent, and very serious question posed from a chap at the rear of the hall.
My house, my rules etc, and the Vicar of Vauxhall paraphrased this to the watered down:
“What do you think of the war?”
A question is a question is a question. Politicians need to be able to stand their ground and answer these. Sadly they weren’t given the chance, and the rather excitable young man didn’t get the chance to hear a watered down answer, as he was led away for insulting a man of the robe with a profanity.
The clock was also ticking down on the evening, and so a fast paced agenda rattled on. Global warming – Hoey arguing a strong cause for local food growing project, Tory Boy pledging not to build any nuclear power stations in Vauxhall – phew. Green Healy had the upper hand.
A question on LGBT rights was aimed specifically at Hoey, who has a ‘questionable’ voting attendance record in the House over gay issues. Tory Boy shuffled nervously as Caroline Pidgeon mentioned the dreaded B & B issue.
A general question on the merits of global capitalism, and then the rather tasteless point made by Socialist Lambert on poverty and wife beating.
Save the best for last, and we finished with a rather fine question asking:
“If elected as our MP, and assuming that you don’t fulfil your cabinet ambitions [eek] – what would be the one piece of legislation that you would like to introduce in a Private Member’s Bill?”
A fine question, Sir.
Kapetanos finally caught up with the idea that the audience wasn’t interested in his continued Hoey bashing: “A law not to harm animals” was offered. @VoteDrinkall repeated his line to nationalise banks. “Legally abolish capitalism” came from Lambert and the Socialists. Green Healy stated his aim to create one million new green jobs through taxation.
Caroline Pidgeon put forward her policy of having a passion for fixing the social housing mess in Vauxhall. Tory Boy kept with this theme and attacked @LambethLabour’s ALMO’s. Hoey had the same idea, and put forward her aim to tackle overcrowding in the housing market.
Petty politics aside, this was a rather ace evening for local South London politics. The Church was packed at its peak (probably something the Vicar of Vauxhall hasn’t seen in a while) and the level of debate was excellent.
Given that Hoey will be returned to Westminster next week, I felt that the contribution of the other candidates at least helped to shape the debate and ideas for the next five years ahead.
Housing and poverty in the ward remains a strong theme across all parties. The sitting MP seemed to genuinely take on board the points form the panel and the floor, and hopefully will continue to fight this cause in Parliament.
I’m a bit late on the uptake here – drinkingcricketing commitments in Croydon at the weekend sadly kept me away from the launch of the Lambeth Living Wage campaign, staged at Windrush Square at the weekend.
The Living Wage campaign, as organised by London Citizens, effectively calls for a:
“London weighted minimum wage, which takes into account the higher living costs of London. The figure currently stands at £7.60 per hour; £1.87 above the National Minimum Wage.”
It is a fine principle, and one which you would expect any local authority to be fully signed up to, especially so with May 6th creeping up on us ever closer. There’s votes in them there local authority jobs, donchta know.
Speeches were made, cheesy grins were gurned for the cameras and the electorate in Lambeth can now votesleep easy, knowing that their Nu Labour cabinet fully backs the pledge to pay council staff a Living Wage for London.
Hang on – what about all those outsourced council jobs, I hear you ask?
“A young chap from London Citizens read out a formal statement saying: ‘Councillor Reed, you told us some months ago that all contracted staff in Lambeth were paid a Living Wage but we have found out that this is not the case. We met with the Head of Procurement and she told us that Veolia staff are not receiving it.”
The problem you see when you privatiseoutsource so many local authority jobs as part of a mutualisation of local government, is that you also effectively outsource responsibility and accountability.
Not on the pay roll, Guv? Don’t expect a Living Wage then.
This is an incredibly important issue for Lambeth. The borough currently has the seventh worst level of child poverty in London. We are electing politicians on May 6th who have the power to come up with a local solution to help raise income levels in Lambeth. Not paying a London Living Wage is only going to perpetuate the levels of child poverty in the borough.
Maybe the solution would be to outsource the @lambeth_council cabinet posts as well. This would wipe out the existence of the career politician in Lambeth, able to trouser just short of £40k for a local politicians job.
“We extended it to all staff earning below it when we took over and are signed up to extending it to contract staff.”
So the Living Wage is “signed up” to be extended to contract staff, but it still hasn’t been rolled out. Which is a bit rubbish really, considering the meet ‘n greet around Windrush Square was also an election friendly opportunity meet the voters in Lambeth.
And they say the future is a coop council, with more services outsourced to save more money.
Mmm – I wonder exactly *where* that money will be saved from?