First there was the petition, launched by Labour's Cabinet member Jack Hopkins (who has responsibility for policing matters). Nothing weird about that, you might think. Except that this wasn't a petition to the London Mayor. The petition states:
"We the undersigned petition the Council to call on the Mayor of London to provide an additional 100 police officers for Lambeth to make our streets safer."
So the cabinet member responsible for policing set up a petition asking Lambeth residents to petition er, him, to call on the Mayor. This was perhaps the first clue that the campaign was little more than political posturing and an attempt to create the illusion that Lambeth Council was doing something.
The metaphorical cat (burglar?) has however now been truly let out of the bag, with an expensive mailing that hit the doormats of Lambeth residents this weekend. The new regular mailing is costing in the region of £180,000 - including a glossy brochure and '100 more police' response cards to a FREEPOST address (again at Lambeth Council, not City Hall) residents are urged to make their feelings known that they want 100 more police in Lambeth. (Note, make their feelings known to Lambeth council, rather than the Mayor).
The problem is that the Mayor's consultation on policing ended three weeks ago on 6th March. The Mayor in fact published his final plan at 9.30am this morning. You can see the Lambeth section of it here with the "before and after" consultation decisions. But thanks to the expensive mailing Lambeth residents will continue to send their cards back to Lambeth council over the next few days, believing that they will be responding to the consultation which ended at the beginning of this month, and believing that they will be influencing a report which was published this morning. And of course the cost of the campaign will increase because this is all to Lambeth's own FREEPOST address.
Was this just more Lambeth Council incompetance? Possibly. But what is clear is that Lambeth Council were all too aware both when the consultation closed (the 6th March) and when the London Mayor would make a final decision. As the Lambeth Council website states clearly: "The Mayor will make a final decision on police numbers by April".
Why then does the mailing sent at great expense to Lambeth residents, have the deadline of the 30th March printed on it, when Lambeth knew full well that the consultation had already finished? This was always clearly too late to influence the Mayor's decision (which the campaign states it is trying to do).
The only reasonable conclusion is that this is Labour Lambeth Council, once again, wasting local residents money to try and score political points, with no hope, or even intention, of success.