theBALANCE 9 – Jul 2015
theBALANCE is Lambeth’s enewsletter, dedicated to highlighting Council activities and campaigns – and how Lambeth works to spend every penny of its budget effectively. Issue 9 is out now.
Issue 9 of theBALANCE, covering Lambeth’s financial outlook following the General Election, generated a record amount of feedback – mainly on what the Council’s spending priorities should be.
There were also a number of thoughts on the Country Show, and on the vexed question of allowing cyclists to skip red lights.
I have recently had a baby, and have been bowled over by the incredible source of support offered by the fantastic children’s centres. The service they provide is absolutely crucial in all areas of parent and child support, as well as providing a true community hub, and they must be protected!
I also feel that continued spending on street cleaning and waste removal is very important. The virtuous circle of cleaner streets fostering pride in local residents, and hopefully discouraging littering, is a powerful thing. – KH
I think Lambeth needs to approach it from two angles, increasing council tax for those who can afford to pay an increase, and trying to protect services, especially for the most vulnerable (alongside keeping core services in the borough running).
I would not object to council tax being increased for those residents not receiving benefit or being subsidised in any way. In terms of my council bill, I think increasing by £50 to £80 per year is not unreasonable, and if it were £100 – £150 per year and it meant keeping services at similar levels, than I think we should all pitch in to do that.
In terms of spending priorities, making sure that services for the most vulnerable are maintained is a priority. Budgets can only be squeezed so much, and I think we just have to accept that this year council tax needs to be increased for those who can afford to pay. – DF
Child protection and children’s mental health services. – IE
Asking people to prioritise your spending just leads to a lot of self-interested answers, that you could easily deduce by looking at the demographic of the borough, and wastes time collating the answers. – LW
I think Lambeth should invest in making the council more tidy and invest in activities that will bring profit to the council, without only relying on government support. It is not ideal but is the only way to make this borough get resources to improve the quality of life of its residents. – EO
I think you could save a fortune by not wasting a fortune on the Street changes to Lower Marsh which nobody can see the point of. Or other ridiculous works like putting in road tables which cost thousands, are not wanted by the residents and in a Street like Hatfields mean the road is closed for over a week and dug up when it has just been resurfaced and there are already several speed bumps. – MB
RESPONSE: The Lower Marsh Regeneration Project was delivered by Lambeth Council in partnership with local groups such as Waterloo Quarter, SBEG and Waterloo Community Development Group. It aimed to make physical improvements to the street that would support and develop the success of Lower Marsh as a shopping centre. See more at: http://www.waterlooquarter.org/news/lower-marsh-transformed-by-regeneration-project#sthash.cZBaXvh8.dpuf
It is always tough to choose, however, I believe that the council should be spending money on ensuring that the area is a decent place to live and bring in prosperity.
With that in mind, please consider: Ensuring the benefit cheats and those that contribute nothing to the area are given nothing until they earn it; Clean up Brixton town centre, especially the area with the fish and meat shops just to the side of the station; Promote more creative and artistic shops, boutiques, restaurants; Find a way to reduce bus traffic through Brixton. – MT
Agree with your priorities. The genuinely disabled and children in care are the most vulnerable in our community – and support for the elderly at the very least means that they can continue to make a contribution for longer (and therefore keep their dignity for longer). – WK
It would be great to see better crossings on the A23. I live near Streatham Common station and the only option to cross the A23 at the intersection with Kempshott Road is to walk out in to the traffic or walk considerably out of my way to go to traffic lights, which are differently timed for each half of the road. They take ages to change then you have to wait again in the middle! I see lots of people including parents with young children walking out into the road; a zebra crossing would be lovely. – HF
RESPONSE: Our campaign to get Streatham back on the transport map (http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/StreathamTransport) includes a call to improve the safety of the A23 by introducing improved signage and enforcing a 20mph zone in certain sections. So far, TfL have agreed to trial 20mph on 3 locations– at Brixton, Clapham and Waterloo – but Lambeth is pressing TfL to extend this to Streatham too in order to reduce the number of road accidents in the town centre. The campaign group, Safer A23 have launched a petition calling for safety improvements to A23.
I would like to see money spent on street and estate cleaning (west Norwood – Auckland hill area). This should include prosecution for those illegally dumping rubbish which must be cheaper than continual removal. I’d like to see support for west Norwood high street traders and other community focussed projects. – TE
Housing is easily the most important issue facing everyone I know in Lambeth. – AS
I am strongly in favour of protecting funds for street cleaning – nothing signals the end of a functioning community like rubbish uncollected. In the same vein, I would ask the council to protect funds to keep planting new street trees – and maintaining them. New developers should be encouraged to contribute to this funding wherever possible. – KS
I think the following should be priorities in Lambeth’s spending plan:
- Environment – street cleaning, planting, refurbishment
- Schools and colleges – Lambeth is doing an excellent job – momentum must be maintained
- Youth services – training, sports and drama, after school activities, challenges, youth entrepreneurship schemes
- Anti-drug and crime campaigns
- Improved policing
- Social services for young children, families in trouble, the mentally ill and lonely elderly. – TW
Spending priorities, in rough order of importance, should be:
- Education and facilities for the young
- Support for the old and sick
- Sports facilities
- Safety and security (the police)
- Public Transport
and while you’re about it you could stop the Garden Bridge. – DS
Stuff Austerity – say no to cuts in local services. – IC
I think the absolute priority for the council is to prevent crimes and antisocial behaviours that risk to compromise any other social policy. – BL
Here are my thoughts:
- Collect more council tax.
- Defer the grandiose and self-serving plans for rebuilding the Town Hall.
- Hold private developers to account when they try to weasel out of their Section 106 responsibilities.
- Ensure that … business landlords aren’t allowed to drain money from the local economy by evicting long-standing shops and businesses.
- Properly fund the security and management of green spaces. – EG
Encourage house building in Lambeth through supply side reforms. Streamline the planning process. Facilitate house building by selling off infill sites. Loosen the planning restrictions on extending properties. Shorten the planning approval waiting times, consider introducing a fast-track process for residents extending their homes.
All of the above are easy and inexpensive to introduce but could make a real difference in the coming years. – GD
You are looking the wrong way. In response to the question of where our spending priorities should lie, maybe we could just manage the books better so we can pay for those essential services? – RL
I would like to see money spend on pavements and roads in the Gipsy Hill SE19 area. I would like to see maintenance of playgrounds in parks. Finally, I think more should done to tackle anti-social behaviour. – G
I think the Council must put public order as a priority. I have lived in two places in Lambeth and both these places are plagued by trouble making youngsters. These yobs are a big problem, and it is impossible to feel truly safe in areas where they gather or pass through and they must be dealt with. – RK
The Council Spending Priorities should be:
- Maintaining weekly and public services: such as refuse collection and street cleaning
- Regeneration of depressed areas
- Improving local transport links to the west end and city
- Regeneration of brownfield land / light industry estates for quality housing for those who need it most
- Improve connectivity in the local area with cut-throughs
- Encouraging GP to open on weekends
- Using more parks to create income – CM
The council’s priorities should be providing services for people who pay for them e.g. rubbish collection/street and pavement repairs/libraries/sports centres etc. etc. These are the services that we pay you our council tax for.
If you stop/reduce services and focus on welfare then in the long run you will lose sympathy from the people who are funding you. – SS
How about not agreeing for £175m to be spent on the Vanity Project known as The Garden Bridge for a start?? Don’t whinge about cuts when you are allowing this to go ahead! – AS
After the planning committee that had 47 queries to be answered around the proposal for the Garden Bridge, is it not obvious that with all the other cuts Lambeth is going to have to make to services, it CANNOT AFFORD this wretched bridge? – JS
RESPONSE: Lambeth is one of the two planning authorities who’ve approved the Garden Bridge proposal. There will be no public money from Lambeth towards the construction or upkeep of the bridge. Full details about the proposal, and the planning process, are available from “Garden Bridge – questions and answers”, on the Lambeth Council website, at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/gardenbridge
The council should prioritise essential services. These are children’s care and protection, and care and facilities for the disabled, aged, infirm. – JS
It’s great! I will definitely visit it – MM
I love Brixton market, have shopped there for 30 years, I enjoy the recent changes in Brixton village but it has gone far enough and the shops under the arches must be saved. We need to hang onto what has made Brixton market, the diversity of cultures, shops, cafes and restaurants. Don’t let the small shops be priced out of the area. – JB
Brixton Market is being changed. It is being changed to reflect the new people who are moving into the homes being built in the area. It has nothing to do with those people that have lived in the area for generations. – L
I attended the country show and have to say it’s one of the best I’ve attended. Thank you Lambeth for a GREAT COUNTRY SHOW – what pleasure it was. – OR
It was ridiculous that most of all the food stalls were charging £8 for food. Please change that for next year. – LS
RESPONSE: The Council is committed to keeping the Country Show free to enter for all to enjoy. All traders are advised to keep their pricing aligned with other large outdoor public events of this nature; however we have no control on how much a trader can charge for their goods or services. All visitors are welcome to bring their own food and drink in to the show site.
Didn’t enjoy this year’s country show has there was too many people this year! Very difficult to walk around and get my bearings, especially when you have young children. The country show should be for the family, young children, OAPs etc. Not just for young festival revellers, which I feel the country show is catering more and more for!! – HM
RESPONSE: We are expanding the site as much as we can with restricted budget to accommodate the increase in visitors each year. All age ranges and especially families are catered for throughout the weekend. The show is extremely popular for everyone with 12 zones to provide something for everyone; this is why we have plenty of signage onsite at the show and offer a guide map with timetables of programming listed.
I had a great time but several bars had run out of cider by 330 on the Saturday so next year a much higher stock should be ordered. – RS
RESPONSE: Thanks for your feedback and we will pass this on to the traders for next year.
I hadn’t been to the show for a couple of years. I was really surprised by the extent to which its shifted away from being a family event to more of a music festival type atmosphere for twenty-somethings. There seemed to be far fewer kids than before and now that I have kids of my own I didn’t feel like it was a particularly safe environment for them. – AD
Because not everybody is ABLE to cycle – whether through age, fitness or because they have small children. There has been a totally disproportionate amount of attention given to the needs of cyclists at the expense of all other sections of the community. – LW
Cyclists ride through red lights and couldn’t care less that they put themselves at risk. Cyclists ride on pavements and couldn’t care less that they put walkers at risk. If they do not care about themselves or others they why should anyone else? – L
Re cyclists going through red lights; ABSOLUTELY NOT. All road users should obey the Highway code whether they are bus or bike. Too many cyclists already ignore traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and go the wrong way down one way streets ignoring no entry signs. If a cyclist is allowed to do it why shouldn’t a truck. Cyclists are disliked because too many of them break the law and don’t look after their own safety. – MB
RESPONSE: Lambeth is already one of the leading cycling boroughs in London and has won awards for various projects including its HGV/cycle training and secure residential cycle parking. Our cycling strategy (http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/pts-lambeth-cycling-strategy.pdf), setting out the vision to become the most cycle-friendly borough in London, includes the aim of improving road user behaviour through education, training and enforcement. It states: “Poor driving of cars, buses and lorries can put cyclists’ lives at risk, while reckless cycling can negatively affect people’s perceptions of cycling. In reality, many of us are both cyclists and drivers – it just depends on the journey – and we would all benefit from improved road user behaviour.”
I currently have to pay £250 a year for a parking permit, but often cannot park outside my house – or even on the same street when I come home from work at 9.30pm, where I have to park in a different ‘zone’ which are in the streets opposite. Then have to get up, dressed and out to the car to move it into a parking space within the correct zone! I believe each resident should be given one parking permit per household providing they own a car. – KK
theBALANCE is Lambeth’s enewsletter, dedicated to highlighting Council activities and campaigns – and how Lambeth works to spend every penny of its budget effectively.
The publication also seeks to get residents involved in discussing the many challenges facing the borough – including the Budget situation and it impact on services – and asks them to give their opinions through its active feedback network. theBALANCE also encourages residents to get involved in their local community, through volunteering and taking part in campaigns including “Do the Right Thing”.
theBALANCE is published every month.