Council Power

Council Power

I wrote to one of Lewisham’s Councillors on the results of the Democracy Review and pointed them at things I have written and published, on Mayor’s and power in the council.

  1. https://davelevy.info/lewishams-democracy-it-could-be-better/ … what i thought was needed
  2. https://davelevy.info/what-is-to-be-done-with-lewisham-council/ … summarising what I said, i.e. my submission
  3. https://davelevy.info/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Lewisham-Democracy-Review-DFL-V1_1.pdf … my evidence, in which 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.
  4. https://davelevy.info/abolishing-executive-mayors/ also hosts the LGIU paper which talks about returning to the Committee System.

And here are my notes about what they said; https://davelevy.info/wiki/lewisham-councils-democracy-review/ which includes comments on power & communication.

For completeness, https://davelevy.info/dictatorship/ my manifesto for abolition of the Mayor. …

On ward boundaries

On ward boundaries

I attended yesterday’s meeting on Lewisham’s Ward Boundaries and discovered the source of much confusion. The meeting had been called by the Boundaries Commission, and the discontent was caused by the Council’s proposed evidence to the LGBCE, which I review on my wiki. The council propose to split up Ladywell, Whitefoot and Lewisham Central and the howls of rage from Ladywell Labour can be heard in Harrow. I make some pissy comments on the arguments against change and the foolish xenophobia of some councillors; I look at Councillors per Constituency and I finish by presenting an impossibility trilemma arguing that it is not possible to have equal numbers of councillors/ward, equal numbers of voters/councillor and respect the constituency boundaries.  For more, see below/overleaf … …

On ward boundaries in Lewisham

‘The borough of Lewisham has changed substantially since the last ward review in 1999 that was published in 2002. In those 20 years, our borough has seen significant housing development and population expansion, particularly in the central and northern wards.

The Council have made proposals and are having an open meeting to discuss this at the town hall.

See also https://davelevy.info/wiki/redistricting-lewisham/ …

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. …

On Mayors, again

The March meeting of Lewisham Deptford’s General Committee passed the following motion about the Mayoralty.

This CLP Notes:

1. That Lewisham is one of a small number of Local Authorities to have a directly
elected Mayor.
2. From conception the directly elected mayor model has never been endorsed by a
majority of the Lewisham electorate. Indeed, at the original referendum to move to
the model only 6% of the actual electorate voted positively for the change to a
directly elected mayor. Yet the system was imposed.
3. Dissatisfaction with the mayor and cabinet model has continued to grow with popular
unrest against the model being magnified by the perceived lack of local councilor
influence over recent Mayor and Cabinet decisions especially in relation to Forest Hill
School and The Millwall fiasco.
4. The forth coming local elections will again be found under this filing model

This CLP resolves:

1. To campaign for a labour victory in the forthcoming local elections.
2. To adopt as this CLP’s position; opposition to Lewisham local government elections
being run under the current model post 2018.
3. To lobby for the inclusion in the 2018 Lewisham local government election manifesto a
commitment to return to the traditional model for local government for future elections.

It’s supporters on the whole want to see a more collective leadership, it’s opponents argue that democracy is better served by allowing the electorate (and the Party) to choose the council’s leader. My problem with this argument is that short of imprisonment a Mayor cannot be removed, …