New Year Thoughts

by Anood Al-Samerai on 22 December, 2010

Anood with Southwark residents

In 2010 I was privileged to be elected by my fellow Liberal Democrat councillors as Leader of the Opposition on Southwark Council. I am pleased to be leading a strong team of hardworking local campaigners. I have really enjoyed meeting a wide range of local groups in the borough and finding out more about the issues that affect them. I’ve been hugely impressed by the commitment of local people who do so much for our community.  

Next year will be a tough one for Southwark Council. Thanks to the state of the economy left by the last government, there will be less cash around for the council to spend. Gordon Brown’s legacy is that Labour Southwark will have some tough choices to make.  

Labour in Southwark will need to decide whether to spend money on paying for free school meals for rich kids and children from outside the borough or whether they use the new Pupil Premium from the government to invest in more teachers. Labour have already chosen to fritter away £2 million on an Olympic quango rather than commit to protect valued initiatives like the Southwark Community Games. 

Labour Southwark need to decide whether to continue funding things like the ‘Cleaner, Greener, Safer’ projects chosen by local ward councillors and local residents. My real worry is that Labour will take those decisions away from local people under the cover of cuts. 

Things could start to improve for our council housing tenants in the New Year, but only if Labour Southwark makes the right choices. The coalition government has scrapped the rules that blocked councils from getting the cash to improve council homes. Labour need to decide whether to bid for the money we need to fix our estates or to carry on spinning scare stories to terrify tenants.

With money tight the council needs to concentrate on getting the basics right.  Labour Southwark need to choose whether to keep our streets clean and safe or throw money away on pointless council propaganda and junk mail?  

2011 will be an interesting time to be involved in local politics. My New Year’s resolution (as well as giving up smoking) will be to visit as many local voluntary groups as possible and make sure that the voices of local Southwark residents are heard loud and clear in the Town Hall and council offices.

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