Looking at the Lambeth LibDems

About that @LambethLibDems election manifesto…

Oh Lordy – ‘ere we go.

Lambeth LibDems

Don’t be fooled by the prominent placing of the word Labour in the above @LambethLibDem wordle. It’s a political trick favoured by all parties around here, ever keen to talk about their rivals, not so keen to look a little closer to home. @LambethLabour is equally as guilty.

First off all – never judge a local election manifesto by its front page. It’s a minor local politico point, but why is @LambethLibDems leader Councillor Lumsden holding an orange LibDem logo, whilst leader elect the bubbly Councillor Bradley has the more traditional LibDem yellow logo?

Lambeth LibDems

It is this sort of semiotics that can keep an obsessive local Lambeth blogger awake at night as we approach May 6th. Will the signs be swapped around after the election? And if so, for what reason…?

Next up comes the manifesto title: A Resident-Led Council – which sounds awfully like the @LambethLabour John Lewis model that gained The Guardian front page headlines (but not the promised public consultation,) as well as the national policy as put forward by Dave’s Bullingdon toffs.

Mutualisation appears to be the model for local government in Lambeth over the next four years, irrespective of which party gains political power on May 6th. The mutual model mentioned in all three mainstream manifestos is the covert way of introducing local council cuts. It needn’t be this way.

Rolling out this new form of government removes responsibility from our elected officials, and leads to less accountability. No public consultation, and no choice between the only two parties that can realistically win political power, all leads to little choice.

The Legacy of a Failed Labour Council (I couldn’t possibly comment…) introduces the agenda for @LambethLibDems. Whereas the right wing Nu Labour lot over at the Town Hall prefer a sidebar to sling mud at the opposition in the Nu Labour manifesto, the Love Me I’m a Liberals get the murky business of party political point scoring over and down with on p4.

A whole page is put aside to list the failures of Labour led @lambeth_council. I’m surprised it wasn’t the pull out centre spread:

Under Labour the council has become a remote bureaucracy that takes little interest in its Town Centres.

I’m sure the likes of Angelina Purcell, the recently appointed Town Centre Manger for Streatham, would have something to say about this statement.

Labour’s Inaction on the Environment tells of how:

Recycling rates have flat-lined… energy consumption has increased and little has been done to improve the efficiency of its own council housing.

I can only speak of what I see around me – recycling in my little SW8 patch of South London has been a huge success in the past four years. The weekly recycling collection of the orange bin bags is one of the few things that @LambethLabour does exceptionally well. I am also served by three local LibDem Councillors…

I know little of improving the efficiency of council housing, although I note that I have spent many a stuffy winter evening at Lambeth Town Hall, with the radiators on full power and cabinet members having to open the windows of Room 8, such is the overpowering heat.

Labour Ignored Our Quality of Life:

Labour has failed to invest in our libraries and leisure centres – many of which suffer repeated closures and swimmers have been left with only one pool.

Ahem.

Yep – no arguments here from me. In the cut and thrust of all the leisure centre closures in the past six months, I have somewhat overlooked the random closing of both Brixton Rec and the old Clap’ham pool, because of endless boiler failures over the past four years.

@LambethLabour has been incredibly lucky in the timing of events. The complete meltdown of leisure in Lambeth is now finally starting to show the first signs of recovery. The timing with May 6th is perhaps no coincidence.

Private property developer the Cathedral Group finally decided to make progress on Future Clap’ham, two years behind schedule. Likewise the Labour cabinet pulled a rabbit out of the SW16 hat with a compromise of a deal with Tesco down in Streatham.

If @LambethLabour was approaching May 6th without any positive news to report on both sites, I could almost go along with the @LambethLibDems claim. Meanwhile, Brixton still remains a bodge job.

Moving on…

Labour is losing the fight against crime. Burglary is up 31% and knife crime has risen more than in other boroughs.

Maybe so, but the Safer Neighbourhood Panels, as introduced by @LambethLabour, are another success story in the borough. Residents are able to set the targets and priorities for the local police in each ward. My only concern is that the publicising, and subsequent public attendance, is woefully unrepresentative.

Labour’s Council Housing Meltdown:

Labour’s council housing service is in chaos. Labour has imposed the biggest rent increases in the whole country while freezing repairs expenditure. The number of empty and squatted council properties is the worst in London. Labour’s ALMO hasn’t delivered a single penny of extra investment.

Can’t argue with any of that. I’m surprised @LambethLibDems don’t mention the £500 per hour paid out to consultants at Lambeth Living, or even the cushy little number that Streatham Labour MP Keith Hill has trousered in his new role as head of the pimped out housing service (although the ultra Blairite does get a name check on p.14)

But anyway – that’s enough of the tit for tat politics. What of the substance of the @LambethLibDem manifesto?

The LibDem “6-to-fix” is the handy cut and keep slogan that the Love Me I’m a Liberal lot have come up. I despise this sloganeering led form of electioneering. What if your personal priorities come in at number seven, eight or nine? Will the LibDems still be able to fix it for you, you and you?

Anyway:

1. Resident-Led Council [see also John Lewis / Tory national model]

2, Environmental Sustainability

3. Quality of Life in Lambeth [including glorious Glum Councillor material as Councillor Lumsden is captured peering at a pothole]

4. The Best Start for Children

5. Ending the Housing Crisis

And number 6? NUMBER 6?

Eh?

Looks like it’s gone missing from the manifesto. Never judge local politicians by their ability to count from one to six (ah, I see – 3. and Quality of Life in Lambeth incorporates both Clean Streets and the Safer Neighbourhood Panels, as introduced by @LambethLabour, natch.)

Lambeth LibDems

What then follows are ten pages, where each of the 6-to-fix (see, I’m even at it now…) are explained in more detail.

The “Resident-Led Council” idea is explored further, with the suggestion of:

We will encourage the most active, such as the Friends of Parks or Town Centre Trusts, to take over the management of council services as independent trusts.

It is not clear who came up with the mutual model for removing responsibility and accountability of our democratically elected local officials first – @LambethLabour or @LambethLibDems. Either way, it doesn’t make the complete cop out when it comes to managing council cuts acceptable.

Honesty, Transparency and Accountability states:

We will open up decision making so that consultation is mandatory and transform the council’s website into a consultation forum.

Cripes.

Consultation is a popular phrase at Lambeth Town Hall right now. One would hope that @LambethLibDems are more honest, transparent and accountable than @LambethLabour when it comes to promising consultations that it knows are impossible to put in place.

Ending the Waste of Your Money argues:

Pointless master plans, expensive office blocks and insulting propaganda like Lambeth Life will all be cut back.

Brilliant!

But where will the statutory council adverts be placed instead? One would hope not in the South London Press, a local ‘newspaper’ that gains from the exploitation of women by carrying two pages of ads for prostitutes each week. The @LambethLibDem manifesto fails to mention precisely what will replace Lambeth Life.

The resident-led council priority also includes a pledge to:

Open up the council’s cabinet meetings to more all-party and public challenge, before decisions are taken.

I have had no problem is accessing cabinet meetings under @LambethLabour, and neither have @LambethLibDem Councillors, who regularly given the opportunity to speak at them.

The @LambethLibDem policy for leisure comes under the Quality of Life banner:

We will deliver to long delayed new pools and leisure centres, rescuing the Streatham Hub that Labour mishandled [and then some…] by finding an appropriate site for a temporary ice rink and using the council’s full legal powers to compel Tesco to keep their promises.

Point of order first: @LambethLabour leader @cllrstevereed teased me on twitter, claiming that the @LambethLibDem manifesto makes no reference to swimming. One would hope that the leader of the Labour group has read the LibDem manifesto in full, rather than just band about wild accusations.

As for the substance? Same old same, really. The LibDems seem moulded to the Streatham Hub model that gives all power to the multi-national supermarket, and little to the leisure users of SW16 and the surrounds.

Finding a suitable location for the temporary ice pad is going to appear problematic, no matter which party is in power. @LambethLibDems have been busy spinning behind the scenes, trying to get local media interested in the division that @LambethLabour’s leisure policy has created in Streatham.

Ice skaters are in opposition with the Friends of the Common group, over the issue of where to put the temporary pad. It is so sad to see the good people of SW16 fall out over a failed @LambethLabour political policy.

At least @LambethLibDems appear to offer the possibility of looking for a different location other than the Common – as opposed to the policy of @LambethLabour of not even making public the alternative sites that were considered by cabinet.

As for “compelling Tesco to keep their promises” – no political party can achieve this. What has been clear to leisure users in the borough over the past decade is that Tesco controls leisure in Streatham; likewise for the Cathedral Group in Clap’ham.

Elsewhere under Quality of Life and dangerous status dogs and the Safer Neighbourhood Panel both get a mention. Both are @LambethLabour policies; both work rather well.

A “residents card for free and reduced price entries to arts and leisure facilities in the borough” is also promised. Mmm – why not call it a REAL card? (although at least the farce of “free swimming for every resident” doesn’t appear in the @LambethLibDem manifesto, as is the case with the folly from @LambethLabour.)

Protect our parks from any further loss of space,” is a further pledge. No names are mentioned, but this is clearly in reference to the shameful mess that has been made by @LambethLabour of the bodged Brockwell Park Herne Hill junction.

Herne Hill

A “tenant-led review” (buzz phrase alert) is promised for Lambeth Living. I dread to think what inadequacies will be found under such an inquiry. A “zero-tolerance” of empty council properties” is also pledged. This may help to remove the shocking figure that one in five of all empty homes in London are located in Lambeth.

But in essence, the @LambethLibDem solution for dealing with the housing crisis is to simply patch up the existing mess that has been made by @LambethLabour. Lambeth Living and the ALMO model will remain; it just won’t be as bad as it is now. So no real choice then…

Looking at the @LambethLibDem manifesto and it is difficult to generate any feelings of betrayal, or even anger, as is the case with the policies put forward by our friends from @LambethLabour. This is down to the presentation of the policies.

My own delay in analysing the @LambethLibDems election manifesto is down to the availability of it. @LambethLabour has promoted the policies extensively, both online and offline. All information is good, even when there is a cocky arrogance coming out of the right wing Nu Labour cabinet.

But the LibDems seem somewhat lost in Lambeth when it comes to presentation. Perhaps that’s just because when compared to the egos of @LambethLabour, the opposition party is content to quietly go about electioneering on a more personal one-to-one level.

Righto – time to take a deep breath, get out the big red magic marker and go about the task of looking for optimism within the Lambeth Conservatives manifesto.

Cripes.

*as with the @LambethLabour election manifesto, I offer up a copy of the @LambethLibDems policy to snaffle up online over here [pdf]*

One thought on “Looking at the Lambeth LibDems

  1. A couple of points from Lambeth LibDem leader, Councillor Lumsden:

    “Orange bag recycling was introduced by the Lib Dem led council, not the Labour council.

    Safer Neighbourhood panels are nothing to do with Lambeth Labour. They were also set up during the Lib Dem council but mostly arranged by the Met Police.”

    Many thanks for pointing this out…

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