21 December 2011

Christmas message from Lambeth Council Leader Steve Reed

Councillor Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council, has released a Christmas message to all residents of Lambeth

(taken from Lambeth website)

Happy Christmas from Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council

2011 Christmas Card, designed by Dylan DuffyThis has been a difficult year for many people in Lambeth. Many residents have faced the loss of jobs, income or benefits, youth unemployment is soaring and we all faced the turmoil of the riots across London in early August. Yet despite all of that Lambeth remains a confident place buzzing with new ideas, energy and creativity that I know will see us through the difficult times in better shape than ever.

We recovered quickly from the summer riots. Our main high streets were reopened within hours, most affected businesses were open and trading the same day, and we were all inspired as our community showed the world that the rioters do not represent us. People across Lambeth came out to help with the clean up and hundreds of new volunteers signed up to help their community.

That powerful spirit of cooperation is what makes this such a wonderful place to live and it's the driving force behind our plans to turn Lambeth into Britain's first cooperative council. We are looking at new ways to hand more power, choice and control to local people over the place they live and the services they use.

No one will have to run their own services, of course, but you will get a much bigger say in how they're run on your behalf. It's a bold experiment that's put us at the centre of a national debate about the future of local government.

I was disappointed at the way the Government has shared out the spending cuts as they pay down the national debt. They chose to impose cuts of £37m on Lambeth this year, which is one in every three pounds we had to spend, while wealthier boroughs such as Richmond lost only £1m.

We have worked hard to protect the front line services local people depend on, and I am proud that over 90 per cent of our savings have been found by cutting back office costs. This helps us to meet our objective which is to protect the most vulnerable while also keeping Lambeth safe, and investing in a better quality of life through improved schools, housing and a cleaner environment.

Looking to the coming year and, while acknowledging the challenges we face, I feel a sense of confidence. Our town centres remain busy despite the recession, our communities are coming together to support each other and our council is exploring new ways to run services that give more control to local people.

The London Olympics will be a highlight for 2012 and I hope our young people will be inspired by the world class athletes visiting our city. We must never forget our duty to help those who are most vulnerable but we are a strong and resilient community and that's why I know that the New Year will be a good one.

I wish everyone who lives or works in Lambeth a very Happy Christmas.