Mutualisation and Hard Working Cllrs

Did you catch the Newsnight piece on the rolling out of the Tory election manifesto last night? Ignoring the irony of the Blue Rinse mob having the front to make their pledges at Battersea Power Station – an SW8 location where Thatcher promised regeneration some twenty-one years ago – but blimey: the dreaded mutualisation of politics was back on the agenda.

The policy being put forward by the right wing Conservative party sounds suspiciously like… a John Lewis style of local government.


It’s a point that has been picked up on by the ever-excellent @BrixtonBlog, as part of an interview with @lambeth_council leader @cllrstevereed. At least Dave and his Bullingdon Boys haven’t pledged a public consultation, knowing full well that there isn’t time to implement it out before the electorate is asked to vote on the policy.

Yep, the @LambethLabour mutualisation of housing, education and health, is rather fashionable as we approach May 6th. No coincidence that it is equally as popular in national right wing circles, as it is in local right wing circles.

Much was made of the “success story” of leisure in Lambeth (steady) as part of the existing mutualisation model with Greenwich Leisure Limited. I rather like the fine folk at GLL, who have managed to patch up the sinking ship of leisure in Lambeth under incredibly testing political circumstances.

An example of how the coop model of managing local services is destined to fail, has found itself up for discussion on the @lambeth_council website today:

We the undersigned petition the council to transfer the management of the Kennington Park leisure facilities from Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) to the Lambeth Sports and Recreation Service, or a new management team, created with the sole purpose of running the facilities for the benefit of the larger park, the users and the local community

@LambethLabour would no doubt respond by saying that “the benefit of the larger park, the users and the local community” is a model of mutualisation. Not so, my friends. What is being called for here is for the council to take direct responsibility for what it was elected for – to manage council owned facilities.

The majority of Lambeth’s leisure facilities operated by GLL have been temporarily or permanently closed and, if this is a sign of their management, it is possible that Kennington Park will be next.

Kennington Park can only be booked by contacting the Ferndale Leisure Centre, there is no promotion of the facilities on the GLL website, payments have to be sent to GLL’s head office in Greenwich, meaning that users suffer from a lack of internal communication and oversights. The changing rooms have been getting progressively worse and wanting for repair for over three years.

I am very sceptical of these e-petitions as being nothing but online lip service for local politicians, who would rather be transparent online than have to go out and receive petitions from the Little People.

Not surprisingly, the yays outweigh the neighs right now. It’s a perfect example of how outsourcing council services to a cooperative (urgh) style of management is destined to fail.

All accountability is lost, and the electorate is left with an inferior service. We vote in our local politicians to manage their own micro patch of land, and not to hand over accountability and responsibility.

Meanwhile, sticking in the same little patch of South London (a mere hop, skip and a jump away from my Oval / E Hants area…) and the political career aspirations of Councillor Morgan are coming into question, over on the wonderful Lurking about SE11 blog.

@se11_lurker blogged about how Councillor Morgan, the sitting @LambethLabour councillor for Prince’s ward, is also ‘doing an Edbrooke‘ – e.g. rather fancying himself as a Westminster MP first, and as a Lambeth Councillor second, should he not land the top job.

It’s the ultimate in political hypocrisy. Hedge your bets, best of both worlds. Or possibly even the worst of both worlds, should the double gamble spectacularly backfire. The good people of Prince’s ward, and their newly twinned political constituency of, um, Orpington, will have the final say on this particular political careerist.

But anyway. About the achievements of the “third hardest working Councillor” at Lambeth Town Hall…


Councillor Morgan has come up with an impressive boast in the blog comments over @se11_lurker, stating that he is the “third hardest working Councillor in Lambeth.” So far, no evidence has been presented to verify this claim.

The effectiveness (or not) of a local Councillor is difficult to quantify. I’d also like to know who the first and second hardest working Councillors are – never mind the length, feel the thickness etc.

What is undisputed however is that Councillor Morgan has the second worst record for attending full council meetings. This was established in a Freedom of Information request I put forward last month.

The people of Prince’s ward were represented by their democratically elected representative at only 50% of full council meetings in the past political year. I am awaiting the (delayed) response to my parallel FOI request, asking what allowance each Councillor has claimed in the past year.

And so with Kennington Park under scrutiny, and with one eye on SE11, and one eye over in Orpington, Prince’s ward should be a lively political patch in the coming weeks. And here was me thinking that The Oval / E Hants area is where all the action is at.

Lordy, lordy…

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