Last night saw the final Council Assembly of 2007. As a meeting it has ceased to be of any real significance since the Constitutional changes introduced by the Tory/LibDem Executive last May meant that local people could no longer bring deputations to Council Assembly. But last night was reduced to a near farce as the LibDems sought to prevent Labour councillors asking questions of Executive members. A series of questions from LibDem councillors to Jeff Hook, Executive member for Community Safety, were met with lenghty replies which he read out from his pre-prepared script. At one stage he was falling about laughing as he read yet another answer to a planted question. Personally I don't think it is a laughing matter that 29 Labour Councillors are prevented from questioning the Tory/LibDem Executive. It is certainly not a proper way to be conducting the business we were elected to do.
As to the remainder of the meeting, the Council adopted the first resolution which is necessary to revise our local bye-laws, and debated Government funding to Southwark; transport links in South London and the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle. It was interesting that Cllr Stanton spoke of the need for us to argue on behalf of Southwark as a whole in securing additonal funding from the Government; citing Camberwell & Peckham as the 6th most deprived constituency in the UK; at the same time as the LibDems are distributing leaflets in the Riverside by-election which seek to pit Bermondsey against Peckham. A real inconsistency which needs some explanation! When he tried to give examples of his Executive's support for Camberwell & Peckham he could only mainly point to projects which had received non-Council funding - the Peckham City Academy (DfES funding) and Burgess Park football pitches (Sport England). The Labour Group will always support any argument which is intended to secure fair funding for Southwark, but we do need to see that fairness practiced across Southwark as well.