Lambeth council need to realise they are in their last chance saloon, Labour MP Kate Hoey told a public meeting on Thursday.
Kate Hoey, one of Lambeth borough’s three Labour MP’s, made the stark warning at the end of a meeting organised by People’s Audit Lambeth which had heard a vast array of wide-ranging criticisms including:
The ward councillor who refused to represent her constituents in opposing estate demolition. “I’m sorry I can’t” she told them.
Residents forced to have a Labour councillor chairing their estate’s ‘resident engagement’ panel
Council officers blocking refunds to residents who found they had been overcharged for services;
Residents being billed for jobs which have not been done;
People complaining of a lack of response from Lambeth councillors;
Financial mismanagement on a colossal scale; and
Kate Hoey saying Lambeth’s cabinet system isn’t working
The Vauxhall MP said she genuinely wanted to see Lambeth work with residents right across the political spectrum.
“There’s this feeling of defensiveness when there is absolutely no reason to be frightened of the people who elected you.”
Turning to Lambeth Labour Cllr Ed Davie who had addressed the meeting she told him: “It’s really important you take back to your colleagues this is not a group of malcontents or Green members or Tories or Lib Dems.
“They are residents from right across the area who have felt they have been ignored. “Whoever is in power in Lambeth in May they really have to take this on board. “They have shown that unity.
“The council need to realise they are in their last chance saloon particularly in regard to what’s been going on in our libraries. “The libraries campaign is a model of when you don’t give up.”
The meeting was the first public event called by People’s Audit Lambeth since their report last July which unearthed evidence of extensive financial mismanagement and failings in Lambeth’s financial governance that suggest millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being wasted. “Lack of governance within Lambeth council appears to be systemic” said the report.
Kate Hoey said People’s Audit Lambeth had tried to meet Labour councillors (“No way” interjected Cllr Davie.) But Cllr Imogen Walker, one of the two deputy leaders on Lambeth council, had agreed to meet People’s Audit (“But she’s leaving” said someone in the 120-strong audience.)
Kate Hoey said she had been involved with People’s Audit Lambeth for between two / two and a half years.
“The one thing I established at the beginning was that this is a group of people who use the legal process, the new legislation to allow people to have a much more direct say in looking at what is happening in their authorities.
“I know this was set up with people who were apolitical / non-political. “I know there are also Labour party members involved.
“I’m afraid that’s not what’s been said .
“I’m in more trouble tonight because I’m chairing something that’s apparently a meeting of the Green party / Conservative party / Liberal Democrat party. “Labour should be putting this on their own website.
(“I’m missing a local party meeting where I think there’s a motion condemning me for something” she admitted.)
“The area where I came in and the one I’m angriest is about is leaseholders. “The most important thing we need is transparency – and we don’t get that.
“This is about value for money and public service.”
She said she was disappointed that leaseholder forums and tenants forums had been moved aside “to produce some kind of tenant involvement which I believe is not genuine consultation.”
“Some councillors put their ward first. “My gripe is this whole Lambeth cabinet system just isn’t working.
“When I was a councillor years and years ago you’d go and talk about things in your ward. “”If you’re not in the cabinet you have so little influence.
“When you have control of a council – 59 seats out of 63 – surely the council then should allow a little more latitude within the ruling group to be able to speak out?”
In a clear reference to Cllr Rachel Heywood (Ind. Lab.) who was kicked out of Lambeth Labour party for dissent Kate Hoey said:
“You’re hardly allowed to speak unless you put it in advance. “If you have a huge majority of Conservative / Liberal Democrat / Green you have to have respect for those people who weren’t represented to allow councillors to speak up and not have this horror of people being chucked out
“I go back to the old days when you had genuine community-led councillors who told the managers what to do.”
Further reading: “LABOUR COUNCILLORS ‘WHIPPED’ SO HARD THEY DARE NOT SPEAK OUT” – Bullying allegations in Lambeth finally made public – April 4, 2017
LAMBETH LABOUR MP BACKS MARCHERS – “Council have not listened” says Kate Hoey – October 11, 2016
OPINION: “THE TIME HAS COME FOR LABOUR COUNCILLORS TO, FINALLY, STAND UP FOR THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED YOU IN – OR TO GET OUT. NOW.” An open letter to Lambeth Labour councillors: October 11, 2016