The Liberal Democrats will be looking to reverse their disastrous result at the last council election, where they lost all of their 15 seats. Ashley Lumsden stood down as leader of the local party.
George Turner, who is leading the Liberal Democrat campaign in Lambeth, says Labour’s dominance has allowed it to become complacent and that the party has “started to take the residents for granted”.
The “outrageous example was the debacle at Cressingham Gardens, where they were slapped down over their consultation by a High Court judge”, Turner said.
“Again and again you get the council using the huge resources they have to oppose the wishes of local people to side with often wealthy developers.”
He said that the Liberal Democrats could offer “extremely strong” representation on the council and in the wards. Where they were elected, they would be “fierce champions of their local communities,” said Turner.
“What we need is a new set of councillors who will come in and use their seats on the council to fight for issues in the wards, which will differ across the borough but that needs to be the first principle,” he said.
On housing, the Lib Dems would be “very strong” on holding developers to account and forcing them to build an appropriate level of affordable housing, Turner said. The problem was that the current Lambeth housing policy to have 40 per cent of affordable housing on new developments was almost never respected. “We would vote against any proposals that didn’t meet that,” he said.
A key policy for the Lib Dems, said Turner, is making sure the accountability of the council “is baked in to the way it operates”.
He said that if his party was in charge, it would ensure that the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, which is meant to scrutinise the decisions of the council, was led by an opposition councillor, unlike now.
“If Labour were the second placed party, we would vote for the Labour candidate to be the chair of the scrutiny committee,” he says. “That what’s the Lib Dems did when they ran the council from 2002 to 2006. We think it’s important the opposition has an established and official role in scrutinising the decisions.”