Last night we held our first Council Assembly which adopted the procedure proposed by the Democracy Commission. This included a themed debate on 'The Future of Southwark' - a debate designed to throw up ideas about how the Council engages with the community in future, particularly at this time as we are facing unprecedented cuts to our budget. As I have said many times before the Council simply will not be able to do all of the things which it has done in the past and in the same way, so there is a need for some really creative thinking and innovation.
It was an opportunity for backbench and opposition councillors to give their input, all of which was going to be considered by my colleague Fiona Colley in her capacity as Cabinet Member for Corporate Strategy, in charge of the Council's Business Plan.
Labour members were absolutely fizzing with ideas and suggestions during the debate, with some exceptional contributions from Cllrs Patrick Diamond, Michael Situ and Mark Williams. Bizarrely the Lib Dem group staged a half-hearted walkout at the start of the debate. I am not sure why, or why they thought that the Future of Southwark was not an important issue for discussion. I do have to say that their contributions to the debate were petty and banal, complaining about process and concentrating on some really parochial issues. There was a complete lack of invention and innovation in their contributions, which was disappointing, and I got the feeling by the end of the debate that they realised that they had made a fundamental mistake in their approach.
But it just underlined for me that Southwark Labour Group has a depth and strength of ideas and experience which is unmatched in our borough.