31 October 2010

Council leader sets out the cooperative council

Council Leader Councillor Steve Reed (pictured below with Vassall Labour Councillors on a walkabout in Myatts Fields South) has published his thoughts on the new cooperative council on his blog http://cllrstevereed.wordpress.com/:

The Cooperative Council: Lambeth’s cooperative future

Lambeth’s Labour Council has announced plans to become the country’s first cooperative council. We want to hand more power to citizens, service users and communities over the services they use. That will require a new and different partnership between the council and our communities so power is shared more equally, and we will be guided by the cooperative values of fairness, accountability and responsibility.

Britain’s existing model of public services was established in the post-war period and, despite some changes, has remained broadly intact ever since. That model of uniform state provision has delivered huge benefits but society today is very different from the 1940s. We are more ethnically diverse, more globalised, we live longer, we have different aspirations, we are used to exercising more choice and control over our lives. The centralised state model has some negative impacts too, creating welfare dependency that has stifled some people’s ambition and aspiration – sometimes across generations. The cooperative approach gives us an opportunity to rethink the settlement between the citizen and the state, and the relationship between public services and the people who use them, so we can shape the kind of community we want to become.
Public services are now under political attack from a Tory-led Government that has the market as its guiding ideological principle. They want to marketise public services, privatising where possible then offloading unprofitable services onto communities. That is what the Big Society is all about – it’s the other side of the coin to the Small State which is what Tory governments have always been about. Our cooperative model is profoundly different. The Tories want to roll back the state, we want to change the role of the state. For Labour, this is about handing power and control to citizens and communities as a means of improving, democratising and protecting public services.

How will it work in Lambeth?
Our approach to cooperation sees public services and their users working together more closely than ever before. The approach differs from service to service and even place to place, but it always involves giving more power to citizens so there is a more equal partnership.

Here are some examples of how the cooperative approach is already working in Lambeth across a range of very different services:

Elmgreen School
Elmgreen is the country’s first and only Parent Promoted Secondary School. It was set up as a local authority school by a partnership between the council and local parents who established a Parent Promoter Foundation that oversaw the consultation for the new school, set up the Governing Body, helped appoint the head teacher, and agreed the design and ethos for the new school. It is now one of the most successful schools in the borough.

Adult care services
Lambeth is pioneering personalised care budgets, where the care user is supported to choose what services they want to receive. Users often choose very different services so those the council was providing. By forming micro-mutuals, care users can pool their budgets and exercise greater influence over the services they want to use – getting better services and, often, at lower cost.

Violent youth crime
The X-it Programme is a youth mentoring programme that originally operated on the Moorlands Estate in Brixton. It worked by training young people on the estate to mentor younger people involved in gangs and criminal activities and divert them into positive activities instead. Over 7 out of 10 young people on the programme did not re-offend – the highest success rate of any programme of its kind in the country.

Cooperative housing
There are many forms of cooperative housing, from tenant management to shared ownership. Lambeth has more tenant-managed estates than any other borough and Coin Street, on the South Bank, is a well known shared ownership housing co-op. Shared ownership give people on lower incomes or first-time buyers the chance to own a share in their home without taking out unaffordable mortgages. If someone’s income collapses, they can simply reduce their equity purchase without losing what they’ve already bought and without the risk of losing their home.

Weir Link Children’s Centre
The council handed a disused laundry on the Weir Estate, Balham, to residents who rebuilt it as a community centre and now run a children’s centre there. The centre is managed by a board of local residents who make sure the services delivered meet the needs of the local community.

Community Freshview
Lambeth’s innovative Community Freshview scheme sees the council and local residents working together to clean up derelict land and turn it into community space – such as play areas, vegetable gardens or simply open space. This popular scheme lowers costs, provides sustainable solutions, and promotes leadership within the local community.

Lambeth’s Cooperative Council Commission
Lambeth’s Cooperative Council Commission will publish its report in December, and will propose a range of services that can be run along cooperative lines. We will learn from these pilots what works and what doesn’t and will then extend the model to other services. By using this approach, we will move incrementally towards becoming a truly cooperative council.

There are a number of questions we are trying to answer both through the commission and through the pilots once they start in the new year. These questions include:

What support do communities need to help run services?
What incentives do individuals expect to participate and how do we make sure participation is open to everyone?
What improvements in value will the approach deliver – in financial and social terms?
Does the approach deliver better quality, more responsive services?
How do we ensure accountability?
How do we make sure services remain open to all who need to use them?
How will the council change its own culture to support cooperative working?
What reserve powers do we need in case things go wrong?

What kind of services might be run along cooperative lines?
The cooperative approach is very flexible so it can be applied to a very wide range of services. Examples elsewhere in the country and in other countries include:

■Cooperative or shared equity housing
■Youth clubs and services
■Health and care services
■Community newspapers
■Foster carers
■Credit unions
■Community Land Trusts
■Community recycling and re-use schemes
■Community Trust Schools
■Sustainable living projects
■Sports clubs
■Industrial co-ops

In summary
Lambeth is already a very cooperative borough. Our communities are very engaged and we have a lively and flourishing voluntary and community sector. The cooperative council aims to harness that energy and enthusiasm to help reshape and improve public services, even in a time of financial cut-backs. This is not about people volunteering in their spare time, this is about citizens and services users actively participating in how local public services are run. Our approach aims to turn citizens from passive users into active shapers of services. That can only work if we genuinely transfer power from the state to citizens. In many ways, that is the most exciting part of all, because what is progressive politics about if not ‘power to the people’?

You can read how the Guardian reported this story by clicking on the links below
Britain’s first ‘John Lewis’ council
Interview with Steve Reed
Community-led sports hub at Old Lilian Baylis School site

30 October 2010

Halloween in Myatt's Fields Park

This Sunday celebrate Halloween in Myatt's Fields Park in Vassall Ward, Lambeth with African drumming, a fancy dress competition and a barbecue.

Henri Gaobi, master drummer and drum doctor from the Ivory Coast, will stage a free performance from 2pm at the bandstand in Myatt's Fields Park.

After the drumming prizes will be awarded for the best Halloween costume (5 years and under plus 12 years and under), spooky cakes will be served in the café and a barbeque will be available.

Everyone is welcome for some spooky Halloween fun!

Myatt's Fields Park is situated between Calais Street, Cormont Road and Knatchbull Road, SE5 in Vassall Ward in Lambeth.

Online chat success

The Leader of Lambeth Council had a successful online chat yesterday with local residents

The results can be seen on the wall of the Lambeth Cooperative council Facebook page

29 October 2010

Chat live online today with the leader of Lambeth Council

Leader of Lambeth Council, Councillor Steve Reed will be taking part in a live webchat today to answer questions about the council’s plans to become the country’s first 'co-operative council.'

Councillor Reed will be on Facebook on Friday October 29 between 1pm and 2pm to answer questions about Lambeth's groundbreaking plans.

People can submit their questions and chat with Councillor Reed live by visiting www.lambeth.gov.uk/livecoopchat.

28 October 2010

Vassall and Stockwell Housing Forum Tuesday 2 November 2010

The Vassall and Stockwell Area Housing Forum will be held on Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 7pm at the  Pedlars Acre Hall, 91 Kennington Lane, SE11 (entrance in Opal Street)

27 October 2010

Lambeth politicans join together to condemn Conservative / Lib Dem cuts

Councillor Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council has joined other politicians in condemning cuts imposed by the national Conservative / Liberal Democrat Government.

A joint statement has been released:

We understand that cuts are necessary to repay the debt incurred preventing the banking system from collapse, protecting people’s savings, livelihoods and jobs.

However, the Coalition Government is using the need to deal with the deficit as an excuse to shrink the state, destroying vital public services and threatening the economic recovery with cuts that are too deep, too fast and hit the poorest hardest.

As a result, the Government is forcing Lambeth to make nearly £90m cuts over four years – losing over a quarter of the available budget. Labour will stand together with residents to do everything we can to protect services that are most important to local people. We will redouble our war on waste, share staff and resources with other councils, and work with our community as a cooperative council so local people can help protect and reshape services.

The 16% cut in police funding will hinder police in the fight against crime, cuts in housing will leave thousands of families in sub-standard and overcrowded homes with rents trebling and poor people driven out of central London, short-sighted cuts in schools and children’s services will see money snatched away from the poorest children and leaves vulnerable children at greater risk of harm, while treasured libraries are now at risk of closure.

The Tory-Lib Dem Government could have chosen to pay down the debt more slowly which would have meant fewer and less damaging cuts, but they have chosen instead to make an ideologically driven attack on public services that will mean real difficulty for people in Lambeth as elsewhere in the country."

Vassall Ward's Labour Councillors Kingsley Abrams and Adrian Garden both supported the statement saying "Sadly these cuts will be most felt in the poorest areas of Lambeth such as Vassall Ward where over the past few years we have seen real improvements brought about by Government investment in the housing stock and in the local area. We will fighting hard to ensure the Vassall gets all the money available to try and ensure that the Conservative / Lib Dem Government cuts dont undo Labour's good work in the area."

26 October 2010

Lambeth launches Big Difference initiative

Lambeth has launched its Big Difference campaign to encourage everyone to be aware of their actions,
surroundings and take ownership for their local communities.

Further details are on the Big Difference websitewww.lambeth.gov.uk/BIGDifference

We all want to live in a community where we are safe and happy. We are working hard to make Lambeth a safer place to live. By being aware of our surroundings and actions we can keep safe and protect our possessions, homes and communities.

The BIG Difference Community Safety campaign highlights actions that each of us can do on a daily basis that would make a BIG Difference to Lambeth, to make it a safer and more enjoyable place to live.
Our campaign has four key messages:
  • Keep it safe: We are working hard to make Lambeth safer. By shielding your PIN, keeping your wallet or purse, mobile and MP3 player safely out-of-sight you can help reduce robbery and pick-pocketing.
  • Travel safely: Lambeth should be a safe place to travel around at anytime. Plan your journey, let family or friends know your route and destination, be aware of your surroundings, and use busy well-lit streets.
  • Report it: Everyone has the right to live in a safe community. Anti-social behaviour that affects you or your neighbours should not be tolerated. Report it on 020 7926 4000 and we can take action. In an emergency always call 999.
  • Play your part: We all want to make Lambeth a safer community to live in. By talking to your neighbours, sharing advice or setting up a local Neighbourhood Watch, you can help keep your community and homes free from crime.
Look out for our BIG Difference posters on your local bus, at your local bus stop and on your local high street!

Visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/BIGDifference today and find out how you can do your part to help improve your Lambeth! The website holds lots of useful information, tips and a directory of groups or organisations providing information about how you can help to keep yourself, your possessions, home and local community free from crime and anti social behaviour.

25 October 2010

September and October newsletter from Claude Moraes MEP

London Labour Member of the European Parliament Claude Moraes has sent out his latest newsletter giving details of his activities in September and October. Read more on Claude's website

Dear Friends
Welcome to my Newsletter.
If you are receiving this for the first time, it is a report from the European Parliament on my work and the work of other Labour MEPs on your behalf in Brussels.

I have been busy in September and October carrying out my work as Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, a Socialist Group Spokesperson and as your local London MEP.
After August recess, Labour MEPs were confronted with some high profile European developments.
These included the first infringement proceedings against an EU Member State on a human rights issue (France – the expulsion of the Roma). They also included action by MEPs on the banking crisis.
With this and other issues, we can see how the post-Lisbon European Parliament is proving to be an ever more important platform on the world stage for progressives to promote our shared politics.

I regularly update my website and Facebook page on the issues I discuss below.

Claude Moraes
Labour MEP for London

Read the full newsletter

23 October 2010

Lambeth Police recruiting volunteers and Special Constables

Lambeth Police will be holding a recruitment day for Special Constables on Saturday 30 October 2010 at Holderness Way Estate, SE27 OEU 12-4pm.

The Lambeth Police website has more information:

Specials have a very important role as they are appointed to preserve the public peace and protect the inhabitants and the security of property in Lambeth. Specials have full powers of arrest like their full time colleagues and perform police duties under the supervision of, and supported by, regular officers. The function of the Special Constabulary is to assist the regular service in meeting the policing needs of the local community.

Recruits receive full training, both in the classroom and on patrol, to ensure they are fully prepared for their tour of duty. The average Special is expected to commit to two hundred hours of duty a year.

Police Sergeant Tristan Paoli said, "Lambeth has been set a challenging recruitment target for 2012 and it benefits the borough and the MSC for the Specials themselves to be involved in the recruitment drive. It allows prospective applicants to speak to serving Special Constables and hear firsthand what policing the streets of Lambeth is like."

22 October 2010

Shawcross condemns Boris' 'backdoor' tube and bus fare increases

Labour Lambeth and Southwark London Authority Member Valerie Shawcross has condemned fare increases proposed by London Mayor Boris Johnson for next year.

With London reeling from the news of extensive public spending cuts following the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) announcement, the London Assembly Labour Group has expressed disappointment that Mayor Boris Johnson has also quietly confirmed that London transport fares will, once again, be subject to an inflation busting rise next January.

Valerie Shawcross, Labour Group transport spokesperson said ‘Almost half the respondents – 46% - who took part in this year’s annual London survey cited the need for cheaper bus and tube fares as a key concern. So no wonder this announcement was stealthily dropped out while news of the coalition government’s cuts to social housing, welfare and policing was riding high in the headlines. Increases include another 10p rise on Oyster Pay As You Go single bus journeys and weekly bus and tram passes will be rising a whopping £1.20 to £17.80 – a rise of 7.23%.

Val added ‘When Boris Johnson became Mayor a single Oyster bus fare cost 90p – it will now cost £1.30 – that a massive 44% increase. We’ve repeatedly stated that our bus network is the cheapest and most accessible way of getting around the capital and we know people on lower incomes and shift workers tend to use the bus more – these are the people who can least afford these increases.’

She continued ‘In addition, not much is being made of issues such as the withdrawal of the zone 2-6 travelcard – meaning passengers will have to buy a zone 1-6 card instead or get an Oyster card, which it is also going to cost more to acquire.  Buying a zone 1-6 card means a jump from what people currently pay - £8.50 to £15 to do the same journeys – an increase of 74%. ‘

‘Low and middle income families are still reeling from the news of job cuts, benefit reductions and increased housing costs and this is a further kick in the teeth. This was slipped out quietly but Londoners won’t fail to notice this huge increases when they are buying their tickets in January.’

Rail commuters are also set to be hit with a fare hike of 3% above inflation.

21 October 2010

Lambeth faces £90million cuts in Tory / Lib Dem Government funding

As a result of the Spending Review announced by the central Conservative / Lib Dem Government on 20 October 2010 Lambeth is likely to have to face up to £90million in cuts.

The Government's decision to cut back spending will have a major impact on Lambeth which we will only know about in the next few months as details are worked out.

Lambeth Labour politicans will be working hard to ensure that the cuts have as small an impact on front-line services as possible.

19 October 2010

Lambeth pioneers new anti-social behaviour rapid response team

A pilot scheme across Lambeth aimed at reducing anti social behaviour is being met by the Leader of Lambeth Council Steve Reed and Police Borough Commander, Nick Ephgrave.

The anti social behaviour rapid response team has been set up after Labour in Lambeth campaigned in the recent local elections to introduce a zero tolerance approach to anti social behaviour. By introducing uniformed hit squads under police command will ensure that the work to tackle anti-social behaviour continues.

The rapid response team is currently being piloted and consists of seven PCSOs, one Sergeant and two PCs. If the pilot scheme is successful the proposal will be rolled out across the borough with a total of 22 PCSOs, five Sergeants and two PCs plus one inspector.

The new team will help make Lambeth a safer environment for residents in spite of the recent Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government admission that policing across the country will face cuts with an estimated 60,000 front line and civilian jobs at risk creating a ‘Christmas for criminals’ scenario.

Labour in Lambeth plan to go further in making Lambeth safe by pledging to;
  • Making offenders pay back for their crimes by carrying out work in the local area chosen by the people who live there.
  • Expanding the dogs service to round up animals used for fighting.
  • Tackle youth and gang related crime with a stark choice for offenders to accept help to get out of crime or face tough sanctions that will stop them re offending.
  • Expand the Domestic Violence Team to support more victims and reduce violence in the home.
Leader of Lambeth Council Councillor Steve Reed said "This is a ground-breaking new way of tackling anti-social behaviour head-on because people have the right not to feel scared or intimidated by a small minority of individuals who choose to behave this way. Labour’s measures will help to ensure Lambeth remains a safe place for everyone to live and work."

15 October 2010

Valerie Shawcross publishes annual report

Lambeth and Southwark London Assembly member Valerie Shawcross has published her annual report giving an overview of her activities over the past year.

See the report on Valshawcross.com

14 October 2010

Fatality on Camberwell New Road 7 October 2010

Sadly there was an accident on Camberwell New Road on Thursday 7 October 2010 which has resulted in the death of the scooter rider. The Metropolitan Police are appealing for information - see the Lambeth page.

There is a report of the accident in the Evening Standard

13 October 2010

Get online with Lambeth

Between 18 to 22 October 2010 Lambeth is participating in Get Online Week 2010, one of the biggest national digital inclusion campaigns to date.

During this week residents visiting the Brixton customer centre will have the opportunity to take part in free online taster sessions and enrol onto our online training course.

The online training we are providing is designed to help customers to get the most out of our website. Residents will learn how to find information and pay their rent, council tax and parking fines, apply for housing and much more on the Lambeth website.

There will also be demonstrations on accessing other government websites, searching for jobs and finding services online through the myguide, a website to help people take their first steps with computers and the internet.

If you would like to take part in a taster session or enrol on an online training course, visit the Brixton customer centre on Wednesday 20 October in the morning or Thursday 21 October in the afternoon.

08 October 2010

Get help with debts

Lambeth have launched a new service to help Lambeth residents struggling with debt. The message they are sending out is dont struggle with debt, get help!

Lambeth Debt Project will operate from four centres across the borough including one in Mowll Street in Vassall Ward. The service gives residents an opportunity to discuss their debts with a specialist adviser, who will help them deal practically with ongoing problems and find solutions.

Patrick Marples, Director of Lambeth Debt Project, said: "If you are someone who is struggling with money, has problems managing your finances and cannot afford essential items because of debts caused by outstanding loans, credit cards, catalogue bills, utility bills, rents, and mortgage, we can help."

"We understand that talking about these matters can be difficult, but asking for help is usually the hardest part. We have specialist advisers who can give you free, confidential and non-judgemental advice, and help you begin to find a solution to your problems."

"Depending on your circumstances, we can help negotiate affordable re-payments with creditors, increase your income and support you to budget more effectively, or in some circumstances, even help get debts written off."

The service has been set up as part of Lambeth Council's economic recovery plan and is funded by the council.

Councillor Paul McGlone, Lambeth Council's Cabinet Member for Finance, welcomed the introduction of this service saying "We know that some citizens in Lambeth are struggling to live with debt. All too often, these are not debts that have been caused by excessive or irresponsible living. They are debts caused by a change in circumstances that make paying household bills and daily expenses difficult, and it can be a worrying and stressful experience if you find your income has changed and you fall into debt because of it. This new service can discuss your situation, suggest practical steps and negotiate with creditors for you. The advisors are extremely experienced with excellent knowledge of consumer and banking law, so they know their way around the system."

This support is available from
  • Brixton Advice Centre, 167 Railton Road, London, SE24 0LU, call 020 7733 7554
  • Centre 70, 46 Knight’s Hill, London SE27 0JD, call 020 8670 0070
  • Lambeth Law Centre, Unit 4, The Co-op Centre, 11 Mowll Street, London, SW9 6BG, call 020 7840 2000
  • Merton and Lambeth CAB, Ilex House, 1 Barrhill Road, Streatham Hill, London, SW2 4RJ, call 0844 2438430.

Salsa dancing, South American music and the Big Draw this Sunday in Myatt's Fields Park

The weather forecast for this Sunday 10 October 2010 is sunny so come along to Myatt's Fields Park in Vassall Ward in  to take part in salsa dancing classes, listen to South American music and the chance to exercise your creative skills by taking part in the Big Draw.

Free salsa dancing class
Come along on Sunday and learn how to salsa! A free salsa dancing class will be offered from noon to 1pm on Sunday (before the South American music performance). The class will be held at the bandstand by professional dance teacher Homero Gonzalez, and give local residents the chance to try the dance steps for themselves. The class will suit all abilities, and will be relaxed and friendly. Come along to the Myatt's Fields' bandstand to find out more!

South American music
From 1-3pm in Myatt's Fields Park South American band Majagua will be performing a variety of music from Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina. Free performance at the bandstand in Myatt's Fields Park.

Big Draw
Sunday also sees the Big Draw in the area around the bandstand. Come along between 1 and 4pm to take part in drawing activities - all ages welcome. The theme this year is picturing the music so you will be able to take inspiration from the music in the bandstand. Chalk and other materials provided - jsut bring your artist talent!

On Saturday and Sunday the Little Cat Cafe will be open serving drinks, cakes, ice creams and other refreshments.

Myatt's Fields Park is situated between Calais Street, Cormont Road and Knatchbull Road, SE5 in Vassall Ward in Lambeth.

07 October 2010

03 October 2010

Lambeth tackles dog mess

Lambeth is one of councils across England who have joined Keep Britain Tidy in a campaign to wage war against irresponsible dog owners who do not pick up after their pets. The campaign calls on dog owners to bag and bin their dog's mess under the slogan that 'there's no such thing as the dog poo fairy'.

Dog fouling is not only unpleasant, but can be dangerous. Fronting the campaign is two-year-old Amiee Langdon, who came to national attention last month when she tragically lost partial sight in her left eye after falling in dog mess. Amiee's mother, Suzanne, is calling on all dog owners to clean up after their pets to prevent anyone else suffering the same fate as her daughter.

Dog mess can be thrown in any general litter bin but a recent Keep Britain Tidy survey showed that only one in five people are aware of that fact. In recent years, there has been a growing problem in the UK of dog waste bags being found hanging on trees, on railings or stuffed in hedges. According to the survey it indicates that some dog owners are actually picking up their dog's mess, but are then simply dumping the bags.

Phil Barton chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy said "Dog fouling is the most offensive type of litter on our streets and is constantly rated by the public as one of the most important issues blighting their local area. Being a responsible dog owner means picking up after your pet. Having our streets and parks caked in dog mess is disgusting. It looks unsightly, can make areas appear run down and is dangerous to our health."

In addition to supporting the campaign, the council's environmental crime enforcement team will be patrolling the borough to ensure that dog owners clean up after their pets. Anyone caught not clearing up after their dog could be given an on-the-spot fine, or could face court prosecution.

02 October 2010

Free films at the Brixton Reel film festival 6 - 8 October 2010

NHS Lambeth are screening a series of exciting and thoughtful new films that explore mental wellbeing and the experiences of African and African-Caribbean communities.

The programme includes the preview screening of the multi-award winning US film Mississippi Damned , which explores an African American family coming to terms with poverty, physical and sexual abuse and a young woman’s struggle to overcome the odds to make a better future. Also on show is a special screening of the classic black British film, Pressure, and the premiere of the Brixton produced film Karma.

  • Fanon Express, Wednesday 6 October at the Fanon Resource Centre, Lambeth, screenings from 2pm.
  • The multi-award winning US film Mississippi Damned, Thursday 7 October at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, 6.15pm.
  • Pressure, Friday 8 October at St Martins Community Centre, Tulse Hill, 2pm
  • Karma, Friday 8 October at St Martins Community Centre, Tulse Hill, 2pm.
Further information is on the NHS Lambeth website

01 October 2010