Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone in South Camberwell who voted Labour last Thursday. It has been a massive privilege to represent this part of Southwark for the past 12 years - and I look forward to continuing my work over the next 4 years with Cllr Sarah King and Cllr Chris Gonde. We plan to continue our mobile surgery programme - visiting every home in the ward every year to find out what issues or problems you have and will be starting that in July. But you can always contact us by phone or email at any time.
These elections were a stunning victory for Labour in Southwark - we now have 48 councillors, an increase of 15 from before the election. The Lib Dems in Southwark now have just 13 councillors (down 12) and the Conservatives 2 (down 1). You have to go back to 1982 to find a better result.
Whilst our main gains were made in Bermondsey & Old Southwark, where we gained 10 of our seats, we also re-took the seat here in South Camberwell, and gained councillors in East Dulwich, Village and College wards.
There are a few lessons that I draw from these results. Clearly Labour had a good night in London, but that was also said in 2010 when we were the beneficiaries of an increased turn-out. So there were some national factors at work, but I think voters also know that they can now trust Labour to provide well-run competent local government.
In Southwark voters rejected some pretty negative and hostile campaigns against us as a Labour council. I think such negative campaigns say more about those who run them than anything else. Over the past 4 years I cannot think of any issue or decision which we have taken which has been welcomed or supported by Southwark Lib Dems! It can't be the case that everything we have done has been wrong - so perhaps it's time for them to re-think their current strategy because it has been a massive failure.
But I also think that the result has been an endorsement of what we have done in the past 4 years and also of our manifesto for the next 4 years. As a council we are leading the way in our commitment to council housing - with our pledge to build 11,000 new council homes; in public health - where we have committed to making swimming and gym use free for all our residents in our leisure centres - following our introduction of Free Healthy School Meals; and in affordable childcare where we are determined to find a solution which works for parents right across the borough from all backgrounds. And we will make Southwark the safest part of London for cyclists.
One of the main issues of contention over the past 4 years and in these elections has been our approach to major regeneration projects. Some are now beginning to campaign against the Aylesbury regeneration - which I find utterly bizarre. That is a scheme which has overwhelming support from local residents and where they will have the option to move into a brand new home in the area. The support for Labour in Faraday ward must surely give those who seek to oppose this regeneration some pause for thought. There must come a time when you respect the views of the voters expressed at the ballot box?
And at the Elephant & Castle Labour made significant gains from those closest to the regeneration there. Again the overwhelming majority of residents want to see continued progress at this part of Zone 1 London. In the next year we will see a new leisure centre opened and residents moving into newly completed homes on the Heygate site. And over the next 4 years we will see significant progress with the shopping centre and a new civic centre being delivered at Walworth Town Hall and Newington library.
We have been given a huge majority and mandate, but I know that with this comes huge responsibility. We have earned the voters trust and support over the past 4 years - and we will never take that for granted. Whatever your background we want you to achieve your full potential in Southwark, and make it an even better place for you to live, study, work and play.
This really is the best borough in London.