Welcome to a new column in Lambethwatch – Questions News From Crystal Palace would like Labour councilors to ask at full meetings of Lambeth council (but they won’t).
ONE: CRESSINGHAM GARDENS
Question by: Any of the three Labour councilors ‘representing’ Tulse Hill ward which includes Cressingham Gardens estate
To: Cabinet member for housing and environment Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite:
Has the cabinet member for housing seen the article on the Brixton Buzz news website dated December 21st – “Lambeth Council refuses to admit how many empty homes are on Cressingham Gardens estate” – which states that Lambeth council have refused to make public the number of empty homes at Cressingham Gardens.
Brixton Buzz asked the council: “Please can you tell me how many void properties currently exist at Cressingham Gardens.”
Why did council officers, in their response to Brixton Buzz made via a Freedom of Information request, state:
“There is a high risk that releasing information on empty properties in the borough, and more specifically information relating to one particular estate will lead to more crime, particularly as a FOI response is a publicly available document.” and then quote a case relating to Camden council which related to specific addresses on an estate in Camden when all that the Lambeth FOI team had been asked was the number of empty homes?.
Given we have children sleeping on floors becausee of the huge housing waiting list we have – even though it hasn’t been updated since 2013 – how can we possibly have homes lying empty not just on Cressingham Gardens but on any other estate?.
Is this just not yet another example of the appalling waste of time which staff dealing with Freedom of Information requests have to cope with? Who is telling them to provide such misleading answers and wasting the time of both council staff and the questioner in the process?
TWO: DURNING AND TATE LAMBETH SOUTH LIBRARIES
Question: by any of the Labour ward councillors in Prince’s ward (where Durning library is sited) and/or Oval ward (in which Tate Lambeth South library is sited.*)
To: Cllr Sonia Winifred, cabinet member for equalities and culture
Has the cabinet member responsible for libraries seen the comments by Friends of Carnegie Library on their website which state that both Durning library and Tate Lambeth South library are no longer funded from the libraries budget but instead funded one month at a time from an undisclosed council budget?.
If this is the case, please could you say from what budgets these libraries are being funded?
Is this being done, as the article states, on a month-by-month basis?
Who authorised these payments and when?
And how can we tell people we have no money in our housing or libraries budgets to repair council estates or re-open the Carnegie library at Herne Hill but can apparently transfer monies from an alternative budget to keep these two libraries going in wards where we plan to retain our seats in May’s forthcoming council elections – as well as finding £3 million extra from another yet-to-be-identified source to spend on communications?
(*Conspiracy theorists should note that while the Durning library is highlighted on the Lambeth.gov Prince’s ward map, Tate Lambeth South is not highlighted on the Oval ward map – Ed.)
THREE – FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUESTS RELATING TO CARNEGIE LIBRARY
Question by: Any of the three Labour councillors ‘representing’ Herne Hill ward
To: Cabinet member for housing and environment Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite
Has the cabinet member seen the correspondence involving the council’s Freedom of Information team and the Information Commissioner’s Office relating to a complaint regarding the Carnegie library, Herne Hill?
Why does Lambeth council continue to be so secretive on the issues surrounding the Carnegie if we, as a council, have nothing to hide?
Finally, Is this just not yet another example of the appalling waste of time which staff dealing with Freedom of Information requests have to cope with? Who is telling them to provide such misleading answers and wasting the time of both council staff and the questioner in the process?
In the light of responses given by this council, have estate agents advertising properties for sale or to let in Herne Hill been advised by Lambeth council that we now regard the area as wetlands and been told to include this information in their sales and rentals literature?
(Michael Morpurgo has been knighted in the New Year Honours)