What is to be done, with Lewisham Council?

Finally I have submitted my thoughts on Lewishams’ Democracy Review. Lewisham Democracy Review by Dave Levy V1_1. My initial thoughts were published in this article on this blog. Three things,

  1. I am shocked at the true legal position, we elect a dictator, with no recall, & no term limits. Executive Mayor’s are not just a first-amongst-equals “Leaders” with a different mandate, it’s an alien form of government, lifted from the US & France and designed to reduce the accountability of the decisions from voters and their political parties. I am equally shocked at the extent to which the Mayor’s power’s are delegated to full time staff.
  2. I have recommended that they abolish the Mayoral system, and in the expectation that this will be rejected,
  3. I recommend a series of reforms to improve the accountability and transparency of the Mayor, Council and senior officials including a recall mechanism, term limits and much improved monitoring of personnel, decisions and programmes.

The deadline is Sunday.

A URL for the document is http://bit.ly/2DA5aho, a SURL for this article is https://wp.me/p9J8FV-1IN …

Lewisham’s Democracy, it could be better

Lewisham’s Democracy, it could be better

Writing up what I think for Lewisham’s Democracy Review is proving harder than I thought, the source material i.e. Lewisham’s Constitution [www] is very long(483 pages), it’s .pdf, can’t easily be indexed or highlighted, so item No. 1. is to increase the transparency of the rules so citizens can understand how decisions are made.

This is a very Un-British way of doing things and all our instincts are wrong. Every decision is reserved for the Mayor who must present a number of plans to full council. the decisions are then taken in the context of the agreed plans which only require ⅓ voting in favour. The Mayor delegates all their executive functions to the Cabinet as a collective but also to the council’s principal paid officers. The backbench Councillor’s Scrutiny Committees can only delay these decisions. There, apart from criminal sanction, is no way to recall the Mayor. The Mayor does not hold office due to their ability to command a majority, they do not need to get many decisions agreed by Council. This is not just a first-amongst-equals “Leader” with a different mandate, it’s an alien form of government, lifted from the US & France and designed to reduce the accountability of the decisions from people and their political parties.

My first proposal would be that the Council agree to ask the people of Lewisham to abolish the Mayor and return to a collective committee led Council. It might seem to be less democratic but a committee led council has to maintain its mandate throughout it’s term of office, a Mayor led council supported by a just ⅓ of the Councillors can ignore civic society and wait for the next election.

The other ideas I need to develop,  and we’ll see how much detail I can research, would cover Recall, maybe requiring a more than 50% vote of the Council, Term Limits, something about an Ombudsman & Compliance Committee and independence, having the Cabinet appointed by the Council, the move to a Green Paper/White Paper process for decision making, improved citizen communication, the web site is shite, smaller wards and some thing on the need to use the powers in the Localism Act to get the changes in law that some of these things would require. …

More on Convoy’s Wharf

Vicky Foxcroft our local MP has put in an objection to the current plans proposed for Convoy’s Wharf. The deadline for comments on Convoys Wharf is the 10th – tomorrow!! This is a massive development sold by Boris to developers for £106 million in 2013. I have commented previously on this project on this blog, but you can add your views to the planning application.

Here’s Lewisham Council’s Planning Site, you need to register on the planning portal to comment. It takes 5 minutes.

Vicky argues that there’s insufficient social housing, that the focus on two bedroom properties doesn’t meet the need of local families and that the community projects mandated by the Mayor of London have been ignored. …

More on Forest Hill School

More on Forest Hill School

Supporters of Forest Hill School took a motion calling on Councillor Maslin to resign as Cabinet Member for Children & Young People to the Lewisham Deptford Labour’s General Committee.  I wrote about the funding crisis and the campaigns to save the school last month. The school is actually outside the constituency but both workers and parents do live in the constituency. The motion was defeated.

The proponents of the motion argued that the Party had policy to support the school, that the Council had failed to take any of the measures proposed by the Party and Union, measures which have been taken in Greenwich: negotiating for relief on the PFI loans, extending the loan period, and giving them money. Cllr Maslin had refused to meet with parents until after the motion had been published and scab labour had been used to break the strike, although everyone now claims it was an accident. …

Strike Breaking in Lewisham

Strike Breaking in Lewisham

This is a circular I received from a supporter of the Forest Hill School anti-cuts campaign.


Many of you will have heard of the ongoing dispute at Forest Hill School, Lewisham over cuts and the impact on teacher workload. NUT members have taken 9 days of strike action in total and yet the council or School management are still unwilling to engage seriously with the union or parents to solve this dispute.

On Tuesday 20th June, the school showed outright contempt for staff and broke the law by bringing in agency Supply teachers to cover during the strike.  …

Not so bad

Not so bad

Those of you who regularly read this blog will see I stood for Secretary of Lewisham Deptford Labour Party as part of left/momentum slate, and those of you who follow Momentum Exposed will know we lost. This was quite disappointing and we have had some difficulty in working out how to develop Labour’s campaigning beyond the electoralism & careerism practiced by the Labour First influenced majority. I think, and many of my allies agree that one of the differences is that on the Left we want to empower and engage our members and our voters; it’s been hard to do that and get the Deptford Labour Party via its General Committee (GC) to express its views when we are in contention with the new MP, and the Council majority. There would also seem to be a desire to exclude the ideas and enthusiasm of many of the new joiners. It was when looking back at what we as members had achieved, that I came to the conclusion that we haven’t done so badly and you can make a difference by joining the Labour Party. Over the last four years, we i.e. ordinary members of the Labour Party have made a difference, most recently on the New Bermondsey Development aka the Millwall CPO but also we have moved forward the national trade union campaign against blacklisting,  the Council’s initiatives on welcoming refugees, on Education and have even won a commitment to return the Anchor to the High Street.

While at times the Labour Party’s procedures seem strange, and exceptionally ill-tempered, belonging to the Labour Party makes a difference. These decisions have involved us debating with and winning other members to our point of view and ensuring that our Councillors take this forward.  …