Monday, October 12, 2009

Labour's Team for South Camberwell

On Saturday Labour members in South Camberwell met to choose our team for the local elections on May 6th next year. I am delighted that the ward selected Veronica, myself and Stephen Govier to be the candidates.

Veronica and I have been councillors in South Camberwell since 2002, and we hope that Stephen will join us as part of our campaigning team on the council. Stephen is the Chair of the East Dulwich Estate Regeneration Project Team and has been incredibly active on the Estate getting the best deal possible for its residents.

We were all out carrying out one of our mobile surgeries on Saturday afternoon along Coplestone Road, Hayes Grove, Oxenford and Everthorpe. We met many residents and picked up a huge amount of casework. A lot of residents were baffled about why new lighting installed in their streets had not yet been turned on, and why old lamp posts had been left.

Our mobile surgeries remain unique in Southwark, and are a good example of Labour councillors working hard throughout their 4 year term, and not just at election times! It is vital that we do not allow the Tories to run Southwark again after next May, and only a majority Labour Group can do that. So Veronica and I know how important it is that South Camberwell elects Labour councillors!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Council Tax Collection - the worst in London

Southwark has the worst Council Tax collection rate in London and the third worst in the country. This fact means that 7p in every £1 or £7 million of Council Tax goes uncollected every year. This is a truly appalling figure and is one of the reasons why I get angry when the LibDems and Tories who run Southwark start scaremongering about cuts from Whitehall. If they did their job properly we would have an extra £7 million a year to spend on front-line services - we could help people deal with the worst effects of poverty; we could improve our recycling and push forward with new green technologies; we could help our older residents and roll back some of the spiteful cuts made by the administration over the past 7 years.

We are in this sorry position because the LibDems and Tories have persisted with Liberata as the council's contractor, 2 years after we asked them to re-tender and find a better alternative. They arrogantly refused our proposal then and have been far too slow to respond to the deteriorating performance of Liberata since.

So the consequence is that we are now bound into a further 2 years of a contract with a company that knows it will lose that contract - with little or no incentive for them to improve. I just hope that our collection rates do not fall even lower in that period.

The LibDems are always anxious to try and blame anyone but themselves for things that happen in Southwark, but this is one result that is down to them. It is just a pity that all of the residents of the borough have to pay so highly for their incompetence.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Labour Party Conference 2009

Last week I was in Brighton for the Labour Party Conference. It certainly did not feel like a conference of a party which was lost and on the way out of government, but was alive with ideas and optimism. It was absolutely right to emphasise the fact that the Tories had no response to the economic crisis last year, and that the Government's response is recognised internationally as having been the right thing to do. I am sure that the electorate will weigh this up in due course, but it is a message which it is difficult to get past the media which has already collectively called the election for David Cameron. I thought the Sun's decision to back Cameron after Gordon Brown's speech was wholly unconvincing. I overheard the interview between the BBC and the Sun's Trevor Kavanagh - who appeared to be fairly lamely following his boss's orders. At the end of the day the decision of the Sun to back the Tories reflects the business interests of one businessman, Rupert Murdoch, and we should not attach too much weight to it.

I was also pleased that Gordon Brown set out a positive agenda for us to campaign on for the General Election. The aspiration of a National Care Service to complement our National Health Service seems to me to be a talismanic policy which should energise Labour voters and supporters. Our whole agenda of equality and opportunity represents so much which is the best of Britain.

Three days into the Tories "Austerity Conference" I think that there going to be a real choice for the electorate to make, and a real fight for Britain's future ahead.

Grove Park - Clarification!

A reader of the blog has commented on my post below and asked what "improvements" mean. Hopefully improvements in the context of the pavement in Grove Park means doing something about their extremely uneven condition and making them safer for pedestrians. Having visited Grove Park on numerous occasions and spoken with residents I know that this is a concern which is often expressed.