And so having landed The Guardian front page back in those pre-election (and pre-purdah) dark and miserable days of February, our right leaning friends from @LambethLabour are now in a position to tell the Little People precisely what is meant by a cooperative council.
Well, not *quite* ready. You’ll need a few more sleepless nights ahead of Wednesday, when the good people of Lambeth can find out what we actually voted for with that 43% share of the vote for Nu Labour, and the consultation-less plans for the coop council.
Can’t wait, me.
With the Nu Politics in more of a spin than a @LambethLabour election agent over in Herne Hill, expect the unexpected from local politicians. I doubt even the good @cllrstevereed was expecting to find a wafer to wedge between his manifesto clumping coop council idea, and the Big Society parallel approach from the Conservative Party.
But yep – that’s what it would appear is meant by a coop council:
“While there are some similarities with the coalition Government’s Big Society proposals, Labour’s model in Lambeth takes a more thorough-going approach applying the cooperative values of fairness, accountability and responsibility across a broad range of services.”
Even in this brave new world of Nu Politics, no surprises in seeing that it is a right wing national government, and a right wing local government that is attempting to make cuts, using pretty much the same overriding economical principle.
I applaud the cooperative values of “fairness, accountability and responsibility.” It was upon these very same foundations that I made my decision at the ballot box on May 6th.
I hope that the “fairness, accountability and responsibility” is in reference to the democratically elected councillors, and not the Little People of Lambeth. That’s what we elect (and pay) local politicians for, isn’t it?
But sleep easy, citizens. Our friends from @LambethLabour are also talking up the prospect of the Little People having a greater role in local democracy:
“Lambeth’s Labour leader, Cllr Steve Reed, will publish detailed proposals on Wednesday 26 May at the same time as the council sets up a Citizens’ Commission to consult local people on the proposals.”
We need to see some working definitions first. Who exactly will make up the Citizen’s Commission, and how will they be selected? There are an awful lot of people living in Lambeth, all paying Council Tax. By definition, this gives them all a right to sit on the Citizen’s Commission.
Once again, credit to @cllrstevereed for explaining more about the route to feed into the consultation process. This genuinely does seem like a new form of engagement with all citizens of the borough.
And what of the timescale? A big whoope! to @LambethLabour for rolling out the consultation process at the start of the summer, but we were pledged this back in February, y’know, before we went to the ballot box.
Timing is crucial here, as our friends from @LambethLabour recognise:
“[The coop model] is built on four years experience trialling the approach in specific services in Lambeth. “
As previously explained, the red herring of purdah for not putting the coop council up for consultation (and the public vote) doesn’t give me much faith in the warped timeline of @LambethLabour. If cabinet understood what the benefits are of a coop council, three, two or even one year ago, why wait until after the local elections before introducing them to key frontline services?
Cuts of course are driving all of this talk of the coop:
“The Commission will also explore how an ‘active citizens dividend’ could be paid to reward people who get involved in running local services, possibly in the form of a council-tax discount.”
This is fine for those local citizens that can be arsed to take an interest, but not everyone has the time to start running the council on the behalf of absent local politicians. Especially not employees who already carry out key public services, such as the Veolia staff, currently working all the hours available, seeing as though @LambethLabour doesn’t pay them a London Living wage.
The press release continues to name check the now familiar projects that have been put up as a guinea pig for the mutualisation of local politics. The “Lilian Baylis Sports Hub” is certainly a creative way of describing the old school building that is still looking for a permanent tenant after much dithering, uncertainty and general confusion from @LambethLabour.
But that’s all for another day.
I wait with some optimism about how my democratically elected local politicians want to invite local people into the decision making process. I am optimistic for more transparency; I fear a coop council may just be a PR move that lets local politicians off the hook.