Lambeth Labour council spends "£180,000" of taxpayer money on "phoney" campaign

A South London Labour council stands accused of spending £180,000 of residents money on a campaign to petition themselves for a consultation that has already ended

by The Commentator on 1 April 2013 12:56


More waste has been discovered in a 'safe' Labour council as yet another incident of grotesque misuse of public funds emerges from South London. 

Lambeth Council, which was recently publicly chided for wasting taxpayers' money on political campaigns, has been accused of wasting nearly £200,000 as part of an exercise that critics call a political point-scoring exercise. The council however, dispute the figures.

On March 6th 2013, the London Mayor's policing consultation ended, giving way to a report to be published about the capital's latest strategy. The Lambeth update was subsequently published here.

But that didn't stop Lambeth council, which conceived of and promoted a campaign to petition for 100 new police officers for the borough, encouraging residents to return petition cards using a freepost address, the cost of which was absorbed by the taxpayer. The campaign was entitled, "100 more police". 

The petition ran after the Mayor's own consultation had already closed but also asked residents to return their thoughts to Lambeth Council, rather than the Mayor of London. Local residents have argued that this has been an exercise of the council spending £180,000 to lobby itself, with no hope of any policy change.

Lambeth Green News reported: "So the cabinet member responsible for policing set up a petition asking Lambeth residents to petition er, him, to call on the Mayor. This was perhaps the first clue that the campaign was little more than political posturing and an attempt to create the illusion that Lambeth Council was doing something."

Lambeth Council has since been in touch with The Commentator, with a spokesperson insisting that the campaign in fact only cost £2,500. He said: 

"The total cost of Lambeth’s campaign for 100 more police is approximately £2500 to date, not £180,000. The £180,000 figure represents the overall annual cost of Lambeth’s monthly magazine which is delivered to every household and business. This is also partially offset by advertising raised for the publication of approximately £50,000".

The campaign was even supported by the Labour shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who posed for pictures outside Brixton tube station.

One resident remarked on an online forum, "...even by Lambeth Labour Party's standards, this is seriously wasteful, stupid and incompetent."

The local Conservative Party noted, "Assorted Labour frontbenchers duly trekked to Brixton to have their photos taken with Cllr Lib Peck... All very well you might think.  Policing is an important issue. But... did it - anywhere - tell you that the consultation ended on March 6th....? Before you even got the mailing, let alone could respond to it.  In fact, the result has already been published!

"...just another Labour party exercise using our tax money to make partisan political attacks on Boris?"

Meanwhile, the council continues to insist that the government is forcing it to make, "tough decisions" over spending. £180,000 is the cost of an extra 7 police officers per year, or indeed less than the council's chief executive, Derrick Anderson earns in just one year. In 2012, Andersen pocketed £193,075 of taxpayers' money from his salary.

Lambeth Council's press contact numbers went unanswered at the time of publication, but the council has been in touch since to insist that the figures are incorrect. A breakdown of full costs has been requested.

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