OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS ON RECKLESS ESTATE DEMOLITION PROGRAMME “If the property market goes belly up, so will Lambeth council” says Jon Bartley – as he highlights Labour’s broken promises and a failure to engage 

Lambeth opposition leader Cllr Jon Bartley highlighted the broken promises and a failure to engage by the Labour administration during the latest full council meeting.

Cllr Bartley had begun by congratulating council leader Cllr Lib Peck on her new job – but said it was  “disappointing” that the leader announced she was leaving, on Twitter, before council officers and councillors had been informed.

“Even now we have no timetable for when she will step down.”

The loss of Labour’s chief whip and council leader in the space of a few weeks leaves Lambeth residents asking why senior Labour members are suddenly deserting their constituents – just months after promising to serve them for four years.

“Sadly broken promises and a failure to engage are now the hallmarks of this administration:

  • “Like the tokenistic consultations about the budget and closure of children’s centres. Consultations which took place long after the council’s budget plans had been put together.
  • “Like the fake assurances given to residents of Cressingham Gardens that nothing would be done to their estate which they didn’t want.

“The next leader would do well to listen.  “In 2013 the Greens warned Lambeth Labour that its six year council tax freeze would leave the council with fewer options in fighting Tory austerity and protecting the most vulnerable.

“If Labour had not imposed that freeze, Lambeth would now have over £10m more each year in council tax revenue.  That is equivalent to the £43m the council is cutting over the next four years.

“The council tax freeze was one of the most damaging and ill-judged decisions that the Labour group has made – and one for which vulnerable residents will pay dearly.

“We put on record now our warning about Labour’s reckless estate demolition programme.

“The council plans to underwrite the misguided property speculation of Homes for Lambeth at a time when the property market is in turmoil.

“Cabinet has now given the go ahead for hundreds of millions in loans to fund this speculation. It is about to reach the point of no return and lock the council into this risky and reckless venture.

“If the property market goes belly up, so will the council.

“Perhaps this is the real reason why senior Labour councillors are quitting. “Because every Labour councillor in this chamber will be held responsible.

“We all understand the need to build new homes in Lambeth.  “But as the recent report to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee hinted, more truly affordable homes might now be built in less risky ways.

“I urge the council to think again. “The council may be losing a leader. “But it doesn’t have to forfeit its future.”

(Editor’s note: Cllr Peck’s final council meeting will be at next Wednesday’s budget and council meetings.)

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