Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lambeth's "John Lewis" Council - No guarantee of quality

Co-operativeness and localism are Green values. There is much to be said for involving the people of Lambeth in their council and providing the services local people want and need.

This is why Lambeth Greens feel that the consultation for the Co-operative Council currently being undertaken by Lambeth's Labour administration is such a missed opportunity.

We're dismayed that Lambeth Labour didn't stand for election on their proposals for the "John Lewis" Council, so local people could have debated them at hustings and on doorsteps, and have had the opportunity to vote in the local elections in full knowledge of what a vote for Labour was going to mean.

We're surprised to see that the Citizens' Commission (now renamed Co-op Commission) does not include a single ordinary citizen but the usual quango-like lash-up of councillors and four of the "great and the good" of the borough.

Most of all, we are concerned that the values of mutualism and public involvement are being misused to varnish a process of allowing more and more privatisation of the services Lambeth depends on. Behind the slogans the true agenda of sweeping cuts already emerges - Labour Cllr Steve Reed has explicitly linked them when he said at the Emergency Budget Meeting “Reductions on national funding mean we need to drive the community-led agenda forward even faster.”

In a climate where all three parties are talking cuts, the Greens are the only party which believes the choice is between a deficit or a depression - we should not be making enormous cuts on a local and national level in our current climate. We do not believe the residents of a poor inner London borough should pay for the economic mistakes of the financial and political establishment.

In Lambeth, we believe in genuine community co-operation. This requires more than a questionnaire at a tube station and a short consultation period. The "John Lewis" council represents the people of the borough being knowingly undersold.

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