I'm afraid I've been away for the week, sunning myself on far-off shores, so have failed to provide anything of an analysis of the local elections. The election night itself, and the post-election summary have both been covered exceedingly well over at Onionbag blog. I was particularly keeping an eye out on Bishop's, Princes and Oval wards, since they're pertinent to this hyper-local patch. I made a few Twitter predictions, but I hope nobody placed any bets as a result...!
I predicted that Princes Ward would stay Labour on account of the fact that none of the Lib Dem candidates really appeared in the ward before the election itself. In that prediction I was correct, but that was my only correct guess. Particular congratulations should go to Cllr Mark Harrison, who despite only winning his seat at the by-election last year, actually received the highest number of votes in the ward. It seems his hard work has paid off, and as a regular commentator here at Lurking about SE11, I'm quite relieved (in a non-partisan manner) that he's still around. I was somewhat surprised that the Green Party's Joseph Healy did not receive a more substantial vote. Dr Healy was present at all of the hustings, had a good online presence and has been dragging himself around campaigning locally. Nobody had really heard of or from his colleague Dr Butterworth before the election, and yet she was awarded a greater number of votes. Very strange. I'm still convinced there might be something in the Onionbag's first-in-the-alphabet theory. Anyhow, happily Joseph has said that he's going to keep blogging in some form, which is encouraging, as additional constructive political criticism is always good for democracy. In Prices, the Tories also increased their percentage of the vote from 2006, but only very marginally, and the national elections might account for that trend.
I thought Bishop's ward might be lost by the Lib Dems to Labour (I was utterly wrong, since there were nearly 200 votes between the trailing Lib Dem and the leading Labour candidate), so Bishop's remains stubbornly Lib Dem. I've got this vague hypothesis that Bishop's (surely a wealthy ward?) is only Lib Dem on account of the fact that none of the residents will allow themselves to vote Tory (since they live South of the river in the dangerous urban inner-city that is Bishop's ward), but neither can they bring themselves to vote Labour... Why any Tory with any political ambition would live in Lambeth is somewhat beyond me... Lambeth must be one of the few places in the country which can veer further towards the left at a time when everybody else was figuring how to get rid of Gordon Brown.
I also thought that Oval Ward would remain Lib Dem. Arguably, that guess was closer to the end result, but since Labour now have two new Oval councillors, and the Lib Dems have kept only one seat, it seems that I was wrong! It was a hotly-contested seat, with several re-counts and a late night for all involved, but Oval now sits very firmly in the red camp.
I'm afraid I must admit to more incorrect predictions. How wrong could I have been? *hangs head in shame* I even predicted that Lambeth Council would be hung. Well, it is. Of sorts. It's responsible for its own public hanging, for those readers who had hoped there might be some viable opposition against the Labour stranglehold. But in terms of votes, I've done a quick map analysis of the 2006 elections (left hand map) and the 2010 elections (right hand map), and you can see the map has gone several shades red-er, but more interestingly, it has become stripier too:
By stripier, I mean that a larger number of wards are now represented by more than one party. In 2006, only Herne Hill and Clapham Common had wards with split votes. In 2010, Thurlow Park, Clapham Common, Vassall and Oval are all wards that will have to work out partnerships for the common good. I wonder whether Clapham Common will continue to act so accurately as a barometer for the country as a whole. If David Cameron and Nick Clegg fall out of bed, will Clapham return to Labour and the Lib Dems? Maybe home-owners should use this map to figure out where to buy property. If you bought in Clapham Common, you've done well, since everybody else did too... Perhaps the Tories will shift their focus from the south-east corner of the Borough to the west. I'm hoping too that the Greens won't give up on Lambeth as a lost cause.
Anyhow, all of this talk of a Lib-Con partnership at a national level matters not a jot for SE11-ites. If you find yourself living in SE11, it's with Labour you'll be contending for the next four years. That means, we need to focus on their election promises. Only, I can't find them online. Does anybody have any of the literature created by Bishop's Lib Dems, Princes' Labour or Oval Labour/Lib Dems? I've found an Oval Labour postcard, but it doesn't really contain any promises. Likewise, the Bishops' Lib Dems appear to have written to everybody, but I can't see that the letter contains any policy. The Straight Choice website has a Vauxhall Labour leaflet, which will have to be used for the purpose of glimpsing the future:
1. Council tax has been frozen for two years (good move). But that, of course, does not really point to what will happen in the years to come.
2. Labour seem to be planning a "borough-wide hit squad". Jean McCarthy (quoted in the literature) is usefully a Princes resident, so I'll keep my ears open for any additional bobbies on the beat in Princes that might help reduce local crime.
3. "Kate fights for local pool facility" reads the headline on the literature. But it's not clear where Kate has been fighting that particular battle, unless it was for the laughable 12 metre swimming pool. The leaflet then goes on to mention the former Lilian Baylis hub, which I will continue to focus upon. I was unaware (but hopeful) that a pool was planned for the site. In the meantime, I'm still waiting to hear news of the officers' report (see comments) on the site that Cllr Harrison was trying to procure back on the 18th March.
The above leaflet has more of a Hoey-esque focus, so it would be good if the Princes, Oval and Bishops election winners could leave some comments about their aims and ambitions for the next four years. Links to election campaign literature is very much welcome, as I don't seem to have received much.
The SE11 Lurker is not impressed by the Lambeth Labour Lefty Love-in at a time when the rest of the country has returned a hung parliament. I'd like to see a more transparent council, with document digitisation and the opening up of non-confidential Council papers, as they pertain to our individual wards. There has been some stinging criticism made recently of Council officers, and I'd like to know how Councillors think internal bureaucracy might be better scrutinised by the electorate, who pay the officers' wages. I will personally continue to demand local political accountability by focusing on the following:
1. Former Lilian Baylis site - This now needs public consultation, or failing that, to be turned into a community facility that has more longevity and investment than current SAZ meanwhile use. A swimming pool would be great, but the building needs over £10 million worth of repairs, and we're still waiting to hear what Labour's "community hub / John Lewis model" looks like. Has a preliminary paper been written on the topic? When might it be viewable?
2. Former site of Beaufoy Institute - It would be good to see discussions about the future of this site, especially if it is to be an educational establishment, made public early.
3. Re-zoning Kennington tube from Zone 2 to Zone 1 - I know Caroline Pidgeon has raised questions about this, but it's one for the Mayor. I'll also be closely observing tube closures and news about transport improvements. I've seen some good news for the Northern line, which I'll write about shortly, but South London desperately needs improved transport infrastructure.
4. Additional River Thames piers in Lambeth - Another one for the Mayor, but this would be a rather inexpensive means of improving the transport infrastructure for those in Bishops, Princes and Oval wards.
5. Further development of Mayor of London / Lambeth Council planning documentation - It's not enough to keep blaming the Mayor's plan for permitting tall buildings, when the Vauxhall Supplementary Planning Document could be used to keep the ambitions of wayward developers in check. Vauxhall should benefit from development and regeneration, but such development must occur as a result of proper town-centre design, instead of developing through ad-hoc developer planning applications.
6. Council housing issues / leaseholder charges - The less said, the better, but I'll be reporting on any correspondence I receive re. the performance of Lambeth Living.
7. Cycle issues - I will keep focusing on the development of the Cycle Superhighways, and on cyclist injuries/fatalities and on the development of local cycle routes/facilities. The 20mph speed limit campaign could probably use some attention, so that's something that's worth keeping an eye on.
8. Crime - Dangerous dogs, gangs, petty theft, burglary etc. will all be monitored, and there's no reason that we couldn't see a reduction in crime by closer resident co-operation. Would be interesting to see if the Council have any local initiatives that might help with this, other than just increasing police presence.
9. Green issues / recycling - I'll be looking out for an improvement in recycling levels within the Borough, as well as news on allotments/growing and healthy living.