12 February 2010

Lib Dems claim they're not in charge in Peckham Rye

(A tweet from the Peckham Rye Lib Dems)

Peckham Rye Lib Dems are now claiming that Labour 'run' Peckham Rye (take a look above). When asked by a local resident "Am I right in thinking Lib Dems run Southwark but Labour run Peckham Rye?", a Peckham Rye Lib Dem candiate replied, "Yes you're right. For the next three months Lab run Peckham Rye. Then we take over..."

Given that, just like every other area in Southwark, Peckham Rye is run by the Lib Dem-Tory Executive it seems this is just the latest in a string of attempts to mislead people into thinking they've got nothing to do with Southwark's failures.

Of course, Peckham Rye does have three Labour councillors, who do a great job of representing our area and our concerns at the Town Hall. However this is very different from 'running' Peckham Rye. If only we could just opt out of the Lib Dem chaos!

In truth, the policy levers and almost all the money spent by the council are under the control of the Lib Dems and Tories. For the sake of accuracy and honesty, two small pots of money, the 'Cleaner, Greener and Safer Fund' and the local 'Community Fund' are devolved to local councillors. In reality this means that Peckham Rye councillors have control over about 0.01% of the council budget, but even this can only be spent on a narrow range of local projects.

No doubt Peckham Rye Lib Dems will claim that a pesky Labour Government in Westminster has failed to provide them with the resources to do their job. They'll tell you it really isn't their fault that Southwark was recently rated the worst council in inner London, that Southwark is the 6th worst council in the country for recycling, the 3rd worst for council tax collection and that it has a £700k hole in the housing budget... I could go on...

However, since coming to power in 2002, the Lib Dems have received year-on-year increases in their grant from the Labour Government. In fact, for all areas excluding education, government funding has increased by a massive 37% (which equates to an extra £50million each year). For education, the money from the Labour Government to Southwark has doubled in the same period.

Such sums of money could and should have been transformative for our borough. That the Lib Dems have squandered so much cash is no doubt the reason behind their tactic of denying they are in charge.

At a time when trust in national politicians is at an all time low, Peckham Rye political campaigners owe it to local residents to run an honest campaign in our ward. We'll continue to do that in our campaigning over the coming weeks.

10 comments:

  1. Vikki, what a wonderfully taken out of context comment!

    It was a reply to Marcel's tweet - agreeing with his thinking that yes Lib Dems run Southwark, but Lab are in Peckham Rye. There's nothing misleading to it. Quite how you read so much into a single tweet is beyond me. Still, strange how you think Labour have nothing to do with how things are in Peckham Rye.

    You are deliberately confusing borough-wide control with an individual ward control, which is what Marcel was asking about.

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  2. Laurie, this just won't do. You deliberately used the phrase "Labour run Peckham Rye", which, as you well know, is untrue. Your Southwark Lib Dem Party run every ward in this borough, and you should be taking responsibility for the council's failings.

    This is by no means the first time that you and your colleagues have tried to give the impression that you are not in control of Southwark, which I think is misleading.

    It's equally untrue to say you've been "taken out of context". I deliberately placed your comment in context by quoting both Marcel's question and your answer. I've also been honest and accurate about the small resources available to Peckham Rye Labour Councillors to improve our area.

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  3. Marcel used the word 'run', to which I agreed. He was trying to establish who was in power where, that's all. You're getting into semantics here! By 'run' Marcel meant 'are elected', which Labour currently are (in Peckham Rye).

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  4. Why agree with something which is untrue?

    Laurie, Vikki's got you bang to rights on this one. You'd never dream of saying that Lib Dem councillors in a Labour held council "run" their wards. You know full well that telling people that Labour run Peckham Rye is misleading. Representing the ward, especially as an opposition councillor, is fundamentally different.

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  5. Wow I wondered why my ears were burning :) Perhaps someone here could clarify for me what the Peckham Rye Councillors are responsible for? I'm reasonably new to the area and I'm just trying to understand how the local council system works.

    Marcel

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  6. Hi Marcel

    If you look through our post above it does cover the extent to which policy levers and the vast majority of council resources (99.99%!) are under the control of the Lib Dems and Tories as they are the parties running the council.

    Your local councillors respresent local people and their concerns to the Executive and council officers. So for example, when we were out and about today we picked up a huge range of housing problems which the councillors will now raise with the council. However, the poor management of the housing repairs hotline and the fact that so many of our homes are not up to 'decent homes' standards reflects the policy and financial decisions made by the Lib Dems in charge of the council.

    Obviously all councillors can vote on council policy and the council's budget but the party with the majority of councillors will, inevitably, be able to win all votes.

    I think there is a big difference between 'representing' an area, especially as an opposition councillor, and 'running' an area.

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  7. Thanks for your response Victoria, I do understand the distinction you make. I'm just trying to work out on what basis I cast my vote. From a neutral's perspective, I don't understand the point in voting for someone to represent the area instead of voting for someone to run the area. I would ideally prefer to do both. Hypothetically, if you win your ward election but the Lib Dems maintain control of Southwark, you can't even implement the pledges of your campaign.

    I am interested to know, in an event where Labour gain control of Southwark, how will the Labour Exec be chosen? It's my understanding that the Lib Dems choose amongst themselves.

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  8. Hi Marcel

    Both our national and local electoral systems have always been set up to have ensure a healthy opposition party - I don't think you'd want a situation where Labour had all 646 MPs in Westminster just because they won the majority of votes. Opposition parties do have an important role to play to scrutinise and challenge all the decisions made by a ruling party. Without a Labour opposition in Southwark, it worries me quite what policies the Lib Dems might have pursued!

    In terms of your vote in Southwark, the local elections for councillors across the borough are very close. At the last elections in 2006, Labour won the biggest share of the vote across the borough and both Labour and the Lib Dems ended up with 28 councillors each. Only by going into coalition with the Tories, were the Lib Dems able to form the Executive. However, a handful of votes across the borough could have given Labour an overall majority - hopefully this time around they will.

    So it's very possible that a Labour win in Peckham Rye will be part of a Labour win across the borough. After eight years of mismanagement by the Lib Dems and some particularly socially unjust policies I really hope this is the case.

    In terms of how Labour would select its Executive, the group leader and deputy leader are elected by all the Labour councillors. People wishing to be Executive members have to apply for position and they are vetted by a panel (this will be made up of the Leader, the Chair of the Local Government Committee, a Labour party member elected by ordinary members and a few others as agreed by the two of them but who represent a fair cross-section of the local party)

    The Leader, in conjunction with the panel, will decide the team he/she wants and then all the Labour councillors will vote to accept or reject the choices made. There would then be a further vote in the full council assembly to elect both the leader and Executive.

    I think the Lib Dem selection follows a similar process to this. Though I don't know how they decided which positions to offer the three Tories in their coaliton or whether they had a vote over which of the Tories took these positions.

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  9. Oh ok interesting. So it operates on the same premise as the national election. I understand the need for an opposition, I just assumed (expected) before looking into this that at a more local level we could vote for the people who run our council. So who is your Leader and Deputy Leader? I would like to know more about them really.

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  10. Hi again Marcel, some councils do have directly elected Mayors but not here in Southwark.

    Rather than me just telling you that our leader, Cllr Peter John, is head and shoulders above the Lib Dems' Nick Stanton, and let Laurie tell you just the opposite, why not come along to the next Council Assembly? It would give you a good idea of both the leaders, Executive and Shawdow Executive and, as it's the yearly budget setting meeting, you'd also get a fair idea of each party's priorities. The Council Assembly will take place on 23rd Feb, starting at 7.00pm at the Town Hall on Peckham Road. Full details, including a map can be found here: http://moderngov.southwarksites.com/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=132&MId=2877&Ver=4

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