This week and over the coming weeks Lambeth’s Cooperative Council will be taking another huge step toward giving greater decision making powers to local residents.
“Ballot” papers like the one on the right will be dropping through people’s doors across the north of the borough from Kennington Lane down to Clapham, from Camberwell New Road across to Union Grove, asking local residents what they think of proposals to improve their walk to school, create increased cycle provision or provide more green space and safer streets.
But this is consultation with a difference as all of the improvements have been suggested and developed by the local community, with the council acting as a supporter – offering technical support on more complicated and complex schemes, giving advice on how traffic can be slowed, facilitating walk to school projects in local primaries and designing and printing leaflets for local community groups. Residents groups have drummed up support, held their own public meetings and undertaken community consultation.
I am incredibly proud of what we are trying to do with this policy and it is a first in Lambeth. It has been more complicated in some areas than others where there are no existing community groups to engage with or where residents on the same streets disagree about what is needed and what they want.
But this is local dialogue and decision making in action. Residents know there won’t be enough money for every scheme. They are told the total budget, the cost of each scheme and then asked to rank them in order of priority. Once residents have fed back their views on what they like and don’t like, local councillors will weigh up the results, taking into consideration other factors such as safety data or the geographical spread of improvements so that one area doesn’t take a lion’s share of the budget, before deciding which get the go ahead, which don’t and which will be put into a project bank for the future.
We will be undertaking an evaluation of how the project has fared, why it was successful or where it could have been better. But the facts so far are positive: it has proved popular with residents, is shifting how the council at various levels engages and works with the public and giving a greater role for democratically elected local councillors.
Councillor Jack Hopkins
- For more information on the Neighbourhood Enhancement programme visit http://lambeth.gov.uk/nep and http://www.haibat.com/oval/oval.php
- Consultation meetings will be taking place on the following dates:
|Larkhall||Springfield Community Centre110 Union Road, London SW8 2SH||Tuesday 17 September||15:30-19:30|
|Ferndale||Car Free DayLandor Road, London SW9||Sunday 22 September||12:00-16:00|
|Clapham Town||Clapham Library91 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7DB||Wednesday 25 September||15:30-19:30|
|Vassall||St. John the Divine Community Centre21 Frederick Crescent, London SW9 6XN||Thursday 26 September||15:30-20:30|
|Ferndale||Papa’s Park, 10-17 Pulross Road, London SW9 8AF||Saturday 28 September||09:00-13:00|
|Coldharbour||Loughborough Centre, Angell Road, London SW9 7PD||Tuesday 1 October||16:30-20:30|
|Oval||Wheatsheaf Community Centre, Wheatsheaf Lane, London SW8 2UP||Tuesday 1 October||17:00-21:00|
|Oval||Wheatsheaf Community Centre, Wheatsheaf Lane, London SW8 2UP||Saturday 5 October||09:30-15:00|