Archive for the ‘Lambeth living’ Category

Independent Report slams Lambeth Housing Review

Posted: September 8, 2013 by lambethsaveourservices in Lambeth living
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Lambeth UNISON have recently issues this press release about “ethnicity biased” redundancies in Lambeth Living

Public service trade union UNISON has welcomed the critical conclusions of an independent review, commissioned by Lambeth Council, of the current reorganisation of Lambeth’s Housing service.

The review was commissioned by Chief Executive Derrick Anderson in response to a trade dispute declared by UNISON, which alleged that redundancies were falling disproportionately on Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff. The review, conducted by Lambeth’s former Housing Director Dorian Leatham concluded that; “The issue of an ethnicity bias is borne out by the fact that all the redundant staff are BME.”

UNISON Convenor, Hassina Malik, said; “Lambeth Council ought not to be making redundancies exclusively of black workers.”

UNISON has been unequivocal in describing the disproportionate impact of job losses as racist. Now the Council’s own independent report has concluded that; “The evidence shows that BME staff, and BME women in particular, are more likely to be unsuccessful in securing appointments.”

“UNISON does not support Lambeth’s Labour Council making any cuts dictated by the Tory Government,” said Ms Malik. “We are, however, particularly opposed to cuts which have a racist impact – as the original proposals from Housing management did – and to discrimination in the implementation of cuts.”

“This episode underlines the importance of equality impact assessments of all Council policies and decisions. Lambeth UNISON will never give up our commitment to equality and fighting racism – whatever other challenges we may face.”

UNISON is calling upon Lambeth Council to make a public statement accepting the conclusions of the independent report and agreeing to work with the trade unions to implement its recommendations.

Axe The Bedroom Tax

Posted: April 7, 2013 by rabidleftwinger in Lambeth living

The Tulse Hill Tenants and Residents Assocation and Lambeth Defend Council Housing have called a meeting to plan the campaign against the bedroom tax. Lambeth Save Our Services supports this meeting

Planning Meeting – Axe the bedroom tax
Saturday 20th April, 2pm
Jubilee Hall, Greenleaf Close, Tulse Hill Estate, SW2 2LX

This meeting is open to everyone, you do not need to live on the Tulse Hill estate.

You can download leaflets for the meeting here

There are several leafleting sessions to let people know about the meeting:

  • Monday 8th at noon (contact Dave – 07977 043 683)
  • Monday 8th April, 5:45pm (contact Rebecca: 07967 098 964
  • Tuesday 9th April 6PM (contact Arnie by text message – 07401 699 933)
  • If you live outside the Tulse Hill Estate and want to organise something in your area we may be able to help. Please contact us if you want to help organise something and we can put you in touch with the right people.

    599071_543001465730770_1280623140_n[below please find the speech from the delegate for Lambeth Living to the Mayor and Council on February 27th. I’m afraid the council wasn’t at all responsive, so you’ll be hearing more about this campaign…]

    Mr Mayor, Councillors, thank you for agreeing to listen to me.

    My name is Edward Owoyemi and I am the UNISON Convenor for Lambeth Living.

     

    The managers in Lambeth Living have put forward proposals to reduce by half the sick pay entitlements of their staff.

    We think that this proposal is irrelevant to the priorities of tenants and residents. The last tenants survey told us that their priorities are repairs and maintenance, being treated fairly and the quality of their homes.

    Nothing about attacking housing workers’ sick pay.

    Our members are opposed to reducing sick pay. It is an attack on workers when they are at their most vulnerable and could cause real hardship to real people. It is an attack on the entire workforce and, if it is not withdrawn, it is very likely indeed to lead to a dispute.

    Why are they making this proposal?

    I am afraid that we really don’t know.

    We asked management if they could give us detailed information about how many staff had been off sick and for how long. We asked for this information more than three weeks ago.

    We are still waiting.

    We asked management if they could tell us what sick pay had cost Lambeth Living over the recent past. We asked for this information more than three weeks ago.

    We are still waiting.

    We asked management if they could tell us what they had done to comply with the public sector equality duty in coming up with these proposals. We asked for this information more than three weeks ago.

    We are still waiting.

    Lambeth Living have no business case for this proposal.

    The have no equality impact assessment of this proposal.

    They have set out to provoke and annoy their entire workforce.

    And they don’t even seem to know why.

    This would not be happening to us if we worked directly for you, the Council.

    The trade unions have an agreement with the Council that you will not change the conditions of service of staff without trade union agreement.

    We are here to ask you please to use your influence with Lambeth Living to encourage them to adopt a sensible and progressive approach to employee relations and to withdraw the threat to our sick pay.

    Your%20Lambeth%20Living%20cover_sLambeth’s workers aren’t just seeing jobs disappear, they are also being forced to fight the cutting at their benefits, standards of living, and dignity. At a meeting of around 70 Lambeth Living workers yesterday, there was a unanimous vote in support of industrial action if Lambeth Living insisted on trying to carry on pushing through these measures:

    • To cut their sick pay entitlement by half.
    • To introduce new sick procedures which are far worse than the current arrangements.
    • To introduce a new code of conduct, which includes a new dress code which would ban “unconventional” hair cuts, hair colours, most jewellery and clothing which isn’t co-ordinated.

    Employees have received no detailed justification for any of these proposals from management, no “business case” and no equality impact assessment. They have asked management to provide the sort of detailed information on levels and costs of sickness absence (which they expected to see in order to justify such proposals) and management have admitted that they don’t even have this information at present and are waiting for the Council to provide it to them.

    Lambeth Living does not face any financial crisis. The Council is not cutting its income. The problems which Lambeth Living does face (for example in relation to the performance of their contractors) have nothing to do with staff sickness or with the Code of Conduct. The management proposals are both irresponsible and irrelevant to the needs of our tenants and residents, as well as being contrary to the interests of all staff.

    Isn’t it time we had a council standing with, and fighting for, its workers to better serve the community living in council housing? Join us to make sure Lambeth Living carry on giving the same rights to their staff as Lambeth Council do. Lambeth Council have promised not to attack the terms and conditions of Lambeth Council employees. We want Lambeth Living to do the same.

    Brixton Town Hall
    Wednesday, February 27th
    6-7 pm

    Council Homes should be Secure Homes

    Posted: January 19, 2013 by rabidleftwinger in Lambeth living

    UPDATE: Lambeth have now scrapped the idea for fixed term tenancies following pressure from tenants and Defend Council Housing. So the protest is cancelled. Well done everyone

    The government’s localism bill in 2011 gave Councils the option to do away with lifetime tenancies for council tenants and bring in 5 year fixed-term tenancies so that people can be forced to leave council housing if their circumstances change. Lambeth are the only Labour council is London who is planning to implement this. We need to stop them.

    Defend Secure Tenancies – Support Stable Communities
    Lobby the Council
    Friday 11th January, 6:30pm
    Lambeth Town Hall

    We know what the Tories are aiming to achieve with this – a dwindling number of council flats being offered as second class housing of last resort to a very few, and the majority of people being forced into over-priced insecure private renting or getting mortgages they can’t really afford. But why on earth would any labour council want to go along with this? More to the point, why is Lambeth the only labour council in London planning to bring this in?

    Person 2 RETOUCHEDNot surprisingly, given that they have the choice, most labour councils are refusing. Ian Wingfield, for instance, cabinet member for housing at Southwark Council, said: ‘I’ve been a member of the council for 23 years and during that time we have been trying to create stable communities – fixed-term tenancies go against that”. And even if councils weren’t just opposing this measure on principle it is obvious to most that it won’t solve the problem created by a chronic shortage of affordable housing and a growing list of people who are desperately in need. As Marie Pye, cabinet member for housing at Waltham Forest Council, has said, implementing fixed-term tenancies will just lead to more administrative costs and uncertainty for tenants: ‘Why put them through all that anxiety and grief when the chances are at the end of it they will just get another tenancy? We would have to set up a whole bureaucracy to run it and we’d be putting people through a lot of anxiety.’

    So the proposal by Lambeth council to introduce these fixed-term tenancies now is simply beyond belief. It is a shocking reversal of their own position in the run up to the Localism Bill when the new leader, Lip Peck, personally lobbied the Tory government not to introduce this option. But their promises and principles seem to be increasingly fickle. Already Lambeth are contradicting their promise that the new tenancies will only apply to new tenants – the report from the Lambeth Residents Conference says that the new Tenancy Policy will ‘not affect current tenants who have lifetime tenancies, unless they decide to move’. This is at a time when hundreds of existing tenants are being forced to move to avoid the ‘bedroom tax’, when housing benefit will be cut for anyone who has a spare bedroom.

    Lambeth Cabinet planned to vote on this in December but postponed the vote to February in order for more residents to be consulted, after an outcry by Tenants and Residents Associations and Tenants Council. It is vital that they hear our views loud and clear and that they show real leadership in opposing this Tory agenda of downgrading council housing. We know there is a crisis in Lambeth over lack of secure affordable housing but we know, and the Lambeth Labour Party must know, that this is not the solution.

    How can you help:

    • Come to the lobby, Friday 11th January, 6:30pm, Lambeth Town Hall and bring all your friends and neighbours
    • Can you help distribute leaflets or posters round your estate. Email us on lambethsaveourservices@gmail.com and we’ll put you in touch with local people who can help
    • Do you want a poster to display in your window. Email us at lambethsaveourservices@gmail.com and we’ll send you one
    • Write to your councillor to tell them what you think. You can do so via www.writetothem.com
    • Come to the planning meeting to help organise the lobby. The tenants council meets Wednesday 23rd January, 7pm, Lambeth Town Hall. Lambeth Save Our Services meets Thursday 7th February, 6:30pm, Vida Walsh Centre on Saltoun Road

    Here is UNISON’s report on the day in Lambeth, enjoy and be inspired!

    • Lambeth College – SHUT DOWN!
    • 94% of Lambeth schools – SHUT DOWN!
    • 2-7 Town Hall Parade – SHUT DOWN!
    • Larger picket lines, at more locations!
    • More people on strike!

    30 November saw the the biggest single piece of industrial action in Britain for a generation. Millions of workers from 25 different trade unions took part, organising lively picket lines, marches, and rallies across the UK. Many in the branch felt in the strike action in Lambeth Council, Lambeth Living and Lambeth College was the best supported and most effective action in more than 20 years. Lambeth College was closed to students, as were the very great majority of schools in the borough. None of the libraries opened and for the first time 2/7 Town Hall Parade was closed and a handful of sorry strike-breakers were directed elsewhere.

    Despite Prime Minister David Cameron characterising the strike as “a damp squib”, the government’s own figures admit that the strike shut or partially closed over 16,000 schools (nearly 75% of all state schools in the country) and led to the cancellation of 7,000 routine (non-emergency) NHS procedures. In Scotland, only 30 schools out of thousands opened and 80% of Welsh schools were shut.

    The branch thanks everyone who participated in the strike action and we can feel proud that we did what was right to confront an utterly unjustified attack upon our standard of living now and in retirement. Our action and our sacrifice defended all local government workers. What next? It is more then likely that this Cabinet of millionaires will continue to pursue its attack on our pension scheme so we need to start thinking now about how to prepare for further, longer strike action early in the New Year. It won’t be easy but it may well be necessary and we all need to be prepared to defend our pensions!

    The Hambrook House Picket
    “The Hambrook picket started early, at 6am. Unfortunately the first strike breaker came in as the doors opened at 6.30am with their head down. However, overall, it was a great day! Two thirds of staff didn’t come in, and some staff turned away as they saw the picket line, which was supported by 20 people at one point. This was a huge improvement on previous strikes and is testimony to both the strong feeling of staff about the attacks on pensions and the hard work that has been put in to building up a big stewards network and hugely increased union density in the past three or four years. We then went to the Windrush rally and then to the central London demonstration. It was a brilliant day, and hopefully will show the government that we won’t let them walk all over us. This is a fight that millions of workers have taken part in and is about dignity, respect and a fair society.”
    Dan Jeffery

    Town Hall Picket
    “It is clear we had support from the security staff who we felt were very sympathetic. Not sure what time or how the CE entered the building must of been before 6am because he came out at 9:30am from the front town hall door! We spoke to some members of the public who came for information, then they started to join in with the pickets! It was the senior managers who broken the line”
    Sheila Simpson

    “The Town Hall picket line began before 7am thanks to Sheila Simpson, Ian Fall from the GMB and my son Daniel, who was with me when I challenged the Chief Executive and Human Resources Director and urged them not to cross the picket line. The picket line grew gradually to very impressive size, with a large number of GMB members joining us. The numbers going into work were well down on previous disputes and the picket provided a very visible presence for our strike in the heart of Brixton”
    Jon Rogers

    INTERNATIONAL HOUSE PICKET
    “The picket line at international House started bright and early at 6.45 AM, we had a UNISON stall set up outside Union material for the strike and the public.

    The amount of pickets was the highest since the 1980s, at its peak 18 people were supporting the pickets, a massive leap since the last strike when there were about 3 of us! Strike-breakers going into work were completely taken aback at the size of picket line and I think seeing strong support for the action from so many colleagues had a major impact. Several people changed their minds about going into work, and one woman was going to go in stayed out and came with us to the central London demonstration. Our picket line was supported by joint Trade Unions and one of our retired members, Corrine, came to show her solidarity and was warmly received by her former colleagues, a great morale booster.

    We estimate that the building was running at just under a 3rd of staff capacity so again I think we had a significant impact”
    Andy Tullis

    2-7 TOWN HALL PARADE:
    “For the first time in a strike 2-7 Town Hall Parade, which deals with homelessness, was closed to the public and staff. An emergency duty line was still operating for serious cases. Our picket had members who had never been on a picket before but they felt passionately enough about the issue to come to the picket to help out. We managed to turn away the refuse collectors who refused to cross our picket line and the one opposite at Hambrook. A few staff did come to work but went to work from OMH where they were met by the picketers there. We then decided to split up and support other pickets so we sent people to OMH and Blue Star House. We are very proud of the members and non-members alike who work in this building and who made the decision to support the strike. We hope that they will join us in building for any future action”
    Gary and Gurmeet

    OLIVE MORRIS HOUSE PICKET
    “The picket line at OMH had a happy and good natured attitude and was enjoyable for us all. The picket was supported by 9 Unison, 2 GMB members (and one member’s daughter). We estimate that somewhere between 66%-75% stayed away. We managed to persuade 2 people to return home and we did receive some pledges to support future action. One great point is that we did manage to be outside OMH to catch and shock ALL of the staff who thought they could avoid us by coming in early.

    Special Thanks to Frances Heath, Caroline Clarke, Paul Johnson and the other gentleman who’s name I can’t remember (Sorry) who were all on the picket-line from 07.00am and to Elizabeth Anthony who came in on her birthday.

    These colleagues have demonstrated true dedication and a great example to all members! I’m proud of you guys!”
    - Chester Danvers

    PHOENIX HOUSE PICKET
    There were 3 of us there from around 7am with numbers growing to up to around 8 during the morning, spread across the 3 entrances to Phoenix House; the majority of us were first time picketers. We leafleted the passers by, with our youngest volunteer for this aged 5, and we were buoyed by the many encouraging words we received from them, as well as the hoots from passing lorries. We had some disappointments, but generally many people didn’t come in and we did have some successes (at least one that I know of). We are also grateful to the Phoenix House reception staff who brought us out mid-morning tea and biscuits!

    BLUE STAR HOUSE PICKET
    “Blue Star house had pickets at the front and back gates. We did our best to talk to people to dissuade them from crossing our picket lines and although I was sorely disappointed with the number of staff who chose to cross the picket line at Blue Star House, I was proud of our Lambeth ‘family’ who were true to the age old principle of solidarity.”
    Hassina Malik

    LIBRARIES – SHUT DOWN!
    “Every library in the borough was closed on November 30, with only two workers crossing the picket lines, which were held at every library. After a year of fighting for our jobs as library workers, it was great to be part of a fightback which brought together millions of workers across the public sector. We are, yet again, incredibly proud of the strength and unity of our members in Libraries. We didn’t just do our bit in yesterday’s pension strike; we sent a message of how ready we are for any fights ahead”
    -Libraries Shop Stewards

    “I joined the Brixton library picket to support my mum who is a library assistant there. I am also a regular user of Lambeth libraries. They provide a fantastic service that contributes to the whole community – the staff work incredibly hard without the motivation of stellar bonuses for their efforts. The very least they deserve is a fair pension. The picket was vibrant and vocal and I was immensely proud of everyone who took part. This is the real Big Society, and we will not allow Cameron’s distorted vision of his Big Society to encroach on our lives and communities”
    Izzy Koksal

    205 STOCKWELL ROAD PICKET

    “I would like to thank everyone who helped build for this action for their support, not only on the day, but in the build up to the largest day of STRIKE action, for speaking out and talking to non members and persuading them of the importance of this day, to the point where they too saw the justification in our cause to send a message to this government!

    I particularly want to thank, Paul, Leigh-Anna, Chris and Helen for all assisting me on the picket line (pictured), which only saw 6 members of staff cross it!”
    Nicole White

    HOPTON HOUSE PICKET

    “Hopton House UNISON members supported the biggest strike in decades with the best supported picket line we have had here in over a decade or more. UNISON members took a stand and held the line along with colleagues from Unite and the GMB. Around 30 or so workers unfortunately decided to turn their backs on their colleagues and service users and went into work, some choosing to use the back door only to find that was picketed as well. At one point we had around 16 strikers supporting the twin Streatham pickets at Hopton House and 380 Streatham High Road a Mental Health services building. Disabled supporters from Lambeth and South London Disabled People Against Cuts came along to offer their support and to show that it is not striking public service workers who are abandoning them and cutting their services. Their message, “We will not be divided”.

    Whilst it was disappointing that a very few Social Workers who provide services to Disabled people went into work rather than strike – these though were the unhappy few. All in all Streatham was united, strong and fighting back”
    Roger Lewis

    IVOR HOUSE PICKET
    The picket at Ivor House managed to persuade four inspectors not to cross! The first inspector was reluctant to cross but said this was a “once in four years” opportunity for her to develop her career. She said she would have stopped if we had four on the picket line but one-by-one I was joined by Rosa, Chris B, Reg and Rekha. Then she said she would go to McDonalds and think about it. Five minutes later she came back with three other inspectors and after some lengthy discussions we convinced them not to cross our picket line. Result! In contrast, staff in that building gathered together opposite IVOR and almost ran into the side entrance meantfor clients – they refused to engage with the picketers
    Reg Morrison/Jeremy Dewer

    SLAM PICKETS

    “It was my first picket and being a relatively new shop steward, the build up to the 30th, the 30th – all of it was a massive learning curve. I witnessed the best of our branch committee, our members and also from our SLAM comrades too and realised our branch is at its best when it is in action. We have been part of an integrated service in mental health for some time but the pickets on the 30th were some of the best examples of integration that I have seen!

    At 308 Brixton Road, placards and pickets were at both entrances declaring an official UNISON picket. The first person to refuse to cross the picket line was our cleaner she walked away in minutes. Then the postman came, he saw and then he left! Then we saw a workman turn away, reversing skillfully back. Service users who arrived were gently accompanied to the entrance to the office and observed to ensure that they went in.

    One of the most moving and inspirational events for us at 308 Brixton Road, was the fact that the entire SHARP Team (SLAM), came out to declare their support for the strike. They closed the building and proceeded to Windrush Square and then to the main rally. They are the real stars in this; the OT Team Manager, psychologist, rehab workers et al – an entire team came out and shut the building in solidarity. I want to thank Stuart and Max from SLAM and to my own Lambeth Unison Branch for their support and encouragement and enabling me to realise that WE are the 99%. All of us- including people like Molly, a young woman of 25 . She told us her story. She is not a public sector worker, but her mother is and she has a disabled brother. Now her mother has lost her job. Molly came to show her solidarity with the strike and provide pickets with Solidari-tea! Thank you Molly and all who came out in solidarity”
    Sahida Uddin

    HOUSING OFFICE PICKETS

    In the North Lambeth area, 9 people joined the picket line Just over 50% of staff were on strike there were about 20 staff that turned up for work and despite out best attempts still crossed the picket line. The post man did not cross and took that day’s post away. Also another contractor made no attempt to cross. We received support for a tenants rep who joined us for a while on the picket line and some resounding good luck wishes from members of the public. The office was only able to provide a limited counter service
    Denise Nunn-St John

    Other Housing area offices also had successful pickets:

    Brixton Office, 50% on strike. 5 pickets
    Streatham Office, 21/25 on strike, 84%. 7 pickets
    Norwood Office, 15/31 on strike, 50%. 1 pickets
    Union Grove, 23/35, 65%. 1 picket

    LAMBETH COLLEGE PICKET
    “There were pickets at all the Lambeth College sites (Clapham, Brixton and Vauxhall) with both UNISON and UCU members in attendance. Most staff did not go in and lots of strikers from the College turned up at Windrush Square to hear the speeches. At Vauxhall we even recruited one new UNISON member on the day and she came on the march with us!”
    Chloe Watkins

    Last Saturday, two important meetings for affordable housing in Lambeth took place.

    Residents on the Guinness Trust Estate in Loughborough Park held a Community Picnic to discuss the best response to the Trust’s plans to redevelop the estate – and evict short term tenants and massively raise everyone’s rents in the process.

    Everyone agreed that tenants (long-term and short-term) should pledge now to refuse to leave their flats until everyone has received guarantees that they will be re-housed in the new development and that the new rents will be in line with existing rent rates.

    We will be going around the estate at 12 noon next Sunday (the 17th) explaining why it’s important for everyone to stick together to take on the Guinness Trust and trying to get as many residents as possible to sign up to the pledge.

    If you think you can help please meet at the community centre just inside the main gates to the estate at 12 noon on Sunday, June 17, or email Grace for more info.

    Additionally, residents of the Ethelred estate in Vauxhall met up and set up a “No” campaign against Lambeth council transferring their estate to the WATMOS Housing association.

    There are three estates in Lambeth that are up for sale to WATMOS (including Ethelred which has 900 units), and tenants of each will be invited to view the documents regarding the sell-off in August and to vote on the issue in September.

    Monday night, Lambeth Council held a meeting with Ethelred residents and the TMOS to discuss further details of the transfer. For details of the meeting, please contact Lambeth Defend Council Housing.

    Ethelred residents are angry and ready to defend their secure council tenancies and controlled rents. They decided to step up the campaign against transfer by :

    -       organising a resident’s petition calling on the council to stop the transfer

    -       going door – to – door to get more residents involved – starting this week – all council housing supporters welcome

    This Wednesday July 13 at 6:30pm there will be canvassing on the estate to VOTE NO TO TRANSFER. Meet outside Carmelita Centre , junction Vauxhall Walk and Jonathon Street. Please come help if you can!  

    For more information on the resident’s campaign against transfer, email Stephen of Lambeth Defend Council Housing at dchlambeth@gmail.com

    The Loughborough Park Guiness Trust is planning a complete redevelopment of the area with major evictions and rent rises. This Saturday the tenants association is hosting a community picnic with ‘Housing Emergency’ campaigners and Lambeth Law Centre advisor with a view to involving more tenants in discussions about their future. It’s at 1pm on the estate. If anyone with an interest in supporting this campaign is around to come along please do so, any please email Grace to let us know you’re coming. Bring food!

    The background to the campaign is in this video

    After that, why not help in the DCH campaign for a no vote to stock transfer on the Ethelred estate. Hundreds of council houses are going to be transferred to a housing association in the autumn if Council wins this ballot. Meeting in the Vauxhall Gardens Tenants and Residents Association hall – Carmelita Centre , junction of Vauxhall Walk and Jonathon Street – this Saturday at 2pm. Again anyone who can support the campaign and come along would be very welcome. Email Grace for more details

    On the 23rd February Lambeth Council meets in full to vote on its proposed budget and we, Lambeth Save Our Services, will be protesting against it, just as we did on the 7th February when hundreds protested at the last cabinet meeting.

    What is getting cut?

    Almost every council service, anything up to 1000 council workers, 25% of all staff, this includes:

    • The entire park ranger service
    • The entire school crossing patrol service which serves 24 schools
    • More cuts in Children’s Services
    • Libraries budget slashed – staff cut, Nettlefold hall closed, four of nine libraries under cuts consultation
    • Discretionary freedom passes for adults with mental health problems
    • Regeneration schemes on housing estates
    • Cuts and privatisation in adult social care
    • Lambeth and Lewisham Colleges to merge – massive cuts to local education
    • Reduction in highway maintenance levels and potholes
    • Rent rises whilst there are less staff to keep estates safe, clean and in decent state of repair
    • Maintenance of the borough’s parks, cemeteries and crematoria is to be scaled back.
    • Street cleaning levels reduced
    • Many cultural events scrapped
    • Three out of four Public toilets to close
    • Noise nuisance service
    • Reduction in the Faith Engagement Programme, which helps to support events such as Holocaust Memorial Day and Peace on the Streets and other community events and projects.
    • Any much more. For more info see the council website (400+ pages!) or check this websites for Cutswatch updates

    What is the alternative?

    Most importantly Lambeth SOS believes that our local democratic representatives – councillors –  should not implement government cuts they openly disagree with. Lambeth Labour, who run Lambeth Council, admit that the government cuts to the budget are ideological. We agree – these are cuts made by a Conservative (and Liberal) government made up of millionaires who believe huge public service cuts and big business are the way forward.

    (more…)

    Lambeth Council has had 37 million pounds cut from its budget by central government for next financial year 2011/12. On Monday (7 Feb) the council cabinet meets to discuss their budget, with a final vote being taken on the 23rd Februrary. There have been 2 consultation meetings in January where opposion to the cuts was strong but the consultation process was poor at best. The day BEFORE the first consultation 39 of the Labour councillors, who run Lambeth, voted for their provisional budget. When challenged on this in the two consultation meetings councillors refused to explain the budget in any meaningful way, opting instead for small groups discussing community issues. How those meetings can possibly make any difference to the already decided budget I do not know.

    Rightly the council leader Steve Reed says he is going to “prioritise services for people who are most vulnerable”. However 800 job loses and 37million pounds of cuts will undoubtedly devastate the lives of the most vulnerable as well as everyone in the borough. “Back office efficiencies” will mitgate the effect of the cuts according to the council. If there are 800 staff twiddling their thumbs in council offices Steve Reed should resign. The fact is we need these people to deliver the good service that Lambeth has in the past, and that is not to say improvements cannot be made. We need the poeple who answer the phones, audit the accounts and support our front line services. Without them quality of service will undoubtedly fall – and that is not acceptable.

    However it is not just behind the scenes that are under attack. Front line servcies are facing the axe. Here are the some of the big cuts:

    • The park ranger service
    • Reduction in highway maintenance levels and potholes
    • Less maintenance of the borough’s parks
    • Regeneration schemes on housing estates
    • The school crossing patrol service which currently serves 24 schools
    • Street cleaning levels are likely to be reduced
    • Christmas lights and decorations are likely to be stopped and businesses
    approached to fund town centre decorations
    • Three out of four Public toilets could close with the council instead promoting
    its ‘Community Toilet Scheme’
    • Maintenance of the borough’s parks, cemeteries and crematoria is likely to be
    scaled back.
    • Discretionary freedom passes for adults with mental health problems
    • Noise nuisance service
    • Reduction in the Faith Engagement Programme, which helps to support events
    such as Holocaust Memorial Day and Peace on the Streets and other
    community events and projects.

    [Taken from the council website. More budget information in a previous post]

    All this while consultants and senior management are taking home hundreds of thousands of pounds and the “Rudderless” housing department is in dissarray.

    This is why we must all Lobby the counsil on Monday to give us a better budget based on the needs of the people of Lambeth. Join us and bring your friends.