Lambeth council plans radical shake-up to put residents in charge

Lambeth Town Hall, by Laura Spargo

By Kaye Wiggins

Lambeth council is planning a radical reorganisation that will put local councillors and residents directly in charge of deciding how local services will be run.

Under the plans, all of the council’s departments – children and young people’s services, adult and community services, finance and resources, and housing, regeneration and environment – will be abolished.

Instead, the council will adopt a “cooperative commissioning” model in which all councillors arrange services based on the demands of their local residents.

Lambeth-wide services will be commissioned by the council’s cabinet members, who are senior councillors with responsibility for borough-wide issues such as children’s services, health and regeneration. These posts are expected to remain unchanged.

The council will still employ teams of officers, but their role will be to provide councillors and residents with the support and resources they need to organise local services.

There will be a bigger role for groups such as tenant management organisations, in which people living in council housing or housing association properties play an active role in the running of their estate.

It is not yet clear whether the restructure will lead to job losses, or how many jobs could be at risk, although staff at the council are said to be nervous about the changes.

The move is seen as a key step towards the development of a “cooperative council” model, in which residents decide how services should be run.

Changes are due to start taking place from April 2013.

Full details have not yet been announced, but the plans are due to be made clearer on Tuesday with the publication of a report on the restructure.