Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Labour in Lambeth proves it is serious about council finances

Keen to back up claims that Lambeth Council has stabilised the finances after Lib Dems and Tories lost millions in fraud and left the council on the brink of bankruptcy in 2006, Labour’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Jim Dickson, today released figures that show that the Labour administration has paid back £126 million of long term debt in the past four years.

Cllr Dickson said ‘Labour has been paying back historic debt left by previous administrations, putting the council on the strongest possible financial footing for the future; something the Lib Dems jeopardised by leaving the council bankrupt after 4 years in power.’

And added that ‘because we have paid down this debt, we have saved in the order of £3million a year on servicing loans, so more money is available to spend on high-quality services that local people need including school places and youth services’.

Cllr Dickson released the figures ahead of the local elections on May 6th where Labour has, as one of its key promises, vowed to keep council tax as low as possible and to protect frontline services from ‘savage’ Lib Dem cuts.

Lambeth Lib Dems threaten 30% council tax hike

The Lib Dems have published a manifesto for Lambeth that is a tax-hikers charter and yet, bizarrely, offers almost nothing new for local people.

Lib Dem spending plans would require a massive 30% leap in council tax – costing the average household an extra £1500 in Lib Dem taxes. That level of increase is entirely in line with the 40% increase the Lib Dems imposed last time they ran Lambeth between 2002-6. They drove that tax rise through despite an election pledge not to impose any increases without a referendum – a promise they simply ignored. The tax-addicted councillor who oversaw the tax-hike policy is now the Lib Dem leader, Cllr Ashley Lumsden and he appears determined to continue where he left off, after voters threw his party out of power.

Apart from the tax hiking plans, the Lib Dem manifesto is bizarrely empty of new ideas. It has nothing to say about a long list of key concerns for local people. The Lib Dems say nothing about how they would pay for road resurfacing or repair potholes, nothing on how they would tackle anti-social behaviour, and nothing on key proposals for new leisure centres in Clapham, Streatham, West Norwood, Kennington and Waterloo. Labour has detailed what we would do and how we would pay for it in all these areas.

Labour’s leader Cllr Steve Reed said: “The Lib Dem manifesto is an empty box with a huge price tag attached. Local people will be walloped with a massive 30% Lib Dem council tax rise straight after the election, but will have almost nothing to show for the extra £1500 that will cost the average household. That represents a big step backward from Labour’s two year council tax freeze at the same time as delivering better services. The Lib Dem manifesto must surely be the most bizarre set of proposals ever put before Lambeth’s voters and I have little doubt it will be rejected out of hand.”

Friday, 9 April 2010

Lambeth streets are the cleanest they've ever been

Environment secretary Hilary Benn and best-selling author Bill Bryson, who is also president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, met street cleaners on the South Bank on Tuesday morning ahead of a summit to tackle the blight of litter. They were joined by Labour Leader of the Council, Steve Reed and Cllr Sally Prentice.

Lambeth was chosen as the place to launch the Minister’s summit because of our vastly improved record in this area. Figures published last year show that Lambeth’s streets are cleaner than at any time since current records began 6 years ago.

Later today, major brands from the fast food, fizzy drinks and chewing gum industries are coming together for the first time with Keep Britain Tidy, government representatives, local authorities, land managers and campaign groups.

McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Wrigleys are among firms forming the partnership with authorities to stamp out litter.

Investment for the Black Cultural Archives

We are delighted that our long standing support to create a permanent home for the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) is to become a reality as we have now agreed a partnership investment programme to create a major centre for black history and culture in Brixton in the heart of iconic Windrush Square.

Housed in the now derelict Raleigh Hall, the centre will hold the BCA collection of historical material relating to black Britain and the African diaspora, as well as providing a much needed educational resource for schools, students and the general public.

The investment programme is the latest stage in Lambeth Council’s alliance with the BCA to ensure that the long held dream of a permanent home for the archives becomes a reality.

Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities said, ”Brixton is viewed by many as the African Caribbean capital of Britain and this proud history makes it fitting that the BCA should be based here. We are delighted to support and honour the legacy and contribution of the Windrush generation, their predecessors and their descendants.”

Labour unveils plan for a better, safer Lambeth in 2010

With just six weeks to go to local elections on May 6th, Labour Councillors in Lambeth have unveiled their manifesto for 2010 onwards. The manifesto, which was written alongside party members and local residents, sets out Labour’s commitments to local people and describes what Labour councillors will do as the people’s champions at the Town Hall.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Steve Reed said ‘Labour’s worked hard to put Lambeth Council back on the side of residents and today Lambeth is officially the fastest improving council in the country with no council tax increase for two years and crime significantly reduced. I want people to keep our new manifesto and hold us to what we pledge today. We asked residents to do this when they supported us four years ago and our record shows that we have kept our promises – that’s why they can trust us to do it again’.

The manifesto includes commitments on value for money where Labour has pledged to keep Council tax as low as possible; on crime where the plan is to have a anti-social behaviour hit squad; on investment on subs-standard roads and pavements; on youth services where the promise is to have things for young people to do within a mile of every home and a major expansion of sport and leisure facilities with four new pools and free swimming for everyone.

Here are five ways Labour has made Lambeth better since Lambeth residents chose Labour to replace a failed Tory-Lib Dem coalition in May 2006:

  • Frozen council tax for two years – after the Tory-Lib Dem coalition forced through a 40% hike.

  • Opened two new brand new schools and refurbished many others with 3 more on the way – when the Tory-Lib Dem coalition left 500 children without a school place.

  • Doubled spending on youth services – after the Tory-Lib Dem coalition left Lambeth with the worst funded services in London

  • Cut out £30million of waste and stabilised the finances – after Tory-Lib Dem coalition lost millions in fraud.

Cut crime by boosting neighbourhood police teams and getting tough on drug dealers – when the Tory-Lib Dem coalition did not issue a single ASBO in three years and tried to legalise kerb crawling.