Labour-run Lambeth has a long and sad history of poor practice regarding children in its care and Ofsted's latest report suggests that the beleaguered authority is still not getting to grips with the situation nearly fast enough.
True to form, Lambeth has appointed some new senior management but its social workers on the front line are left struggling with problematic case workloads often going back many years. The report suggests that many social workers have over 20 child assessment cases to deal with at any one time and that too few staff means that agency staff are routinely employed to fill the gaps leading to further inconsistency as well as higher costs to the local taxpayer.
We hear there's a proposal to build an open-air theatre in Brockwell Park. Only a proposal, mind. And advanced by a theatre-loving local in Herne Hill with claims that this £10 Million project would be beneficial to community groups and an artistic encouragement to those on low incomes. A win-win idea, surely, that ticks lots of boxes?
Barely a month has passed since we announced the glad tidings that the iconic Streatham Library building had been placed on the national register of listed buildings at last.
Now comes news of collapsed ceilings, water ingress from poorly maintained gutters and drains, ruined heritage plasterwork, spoilt paintwork, and parts of the library shut off to the public. A report in Inside Lambeth suggests that someone working in the library also had a narrow escape when part of the ceiling caved-in. Some of the book stock may have been damaged as a result.
It is really great news to report that the Streatham Tate Library has finally been awarded a Grade II Listing by Historic England.
Former Lib Dem St Leonard's ward councillor Brian Palmer originally applied to have both the Brixton Tate Library and its Streatham companion - both designed by Sir Henry Tate's own architect SRJ Smith - listed to protect them from an even earlier round of Labour library closures. While Brixton library was listed on 27th May 1999, the Streatham library was then not thought good enough.
We've said it many times before but Labour's obsession with granting permission to developers, in the North of the Borough in particular, is doing nothing to help local people to get on the housing ladder - just the reverse.
Now comes news via the Guardian newspaper that the Vauxhall Tower, aka St Georges Tower, has almost two-thirds of its apartments owned by rich foreigners only one of whom is entitled to vote in this country. Yet, to make matters worse, these luxury apartments that have sold for between £600,000 and an obscene £51 million for the 5-storey penthouse are rarely if ever lived in.
Just when you thought that Lambeth Labour's ill-judged policy to close numerous libraries and create a dodgy deal to run them as pseudo-gyms couldn't get any worse, a Guardian feature suggests that two closed libraries are actually costing us more to keep closed than open.
The Guardian, through a Freedom of Information request, has discovered that security at the Carnegie library in Herne Hill and the Minet which previously housed the borough's archives are costing a fortune just to keep council taxpayers out. Between 31st March and 15th April 2016 the council paid a security firm over £35, 000 on security staff - allegedly working for less than the London Living Wage of £9.40 an hour.
The London Assembly has requested that Transport for London (TfL) fully recover any public money allocated to the Garden Bridge project. The Assembly also agreed a motion calling for the Mayor to promptly answer all Mayoral Questions relating to the Garden Bridge procurement process.
Liberal Democrat Leader of London Assembly Group, Caroline Pidgeon, who proposed the motion, said:
"Over the last year detail after detail about the unorthodox procurement process for the design of a pedestrian bridge over the Thames has slowly come to light thanks to excellent investigative journalism and the hard work of the London Assembly.
"The latest discovery is that even before Transport for London had invited companies to submit their design bids for the bridge the Mayor was flying around the world at taxpayers' expense to promote one specific design. It is time that the full facts over the procurement of the design contract were finally revealed. In the meantime not a penny more of public money should be poured into the project and every attempt should be made to recover any public money already allocated."
The full text of the motion is:
The Assembly notes the latest revelations about the procurement process for design services for a proposed pedestrian bridge linking South Bank to Temple.
The Assembly regrets that the Mayor has described his publicly funded trip to San Francisco in early February 2013 as merely a private trip. Furthermore, the Assembly expresses its concern that the Mayor was willing to attend meetings seeking sponsorship for one specific design when TfL had not even started the procurement process for the design of the bridge.
The Assembly urges the Mayor to fully comply with any outstanding and further inquiries by the GLA Oversight Committee and to ensure that all Mayoral Questions relating to the Garden Bridge are promptly answered.
The Assembly reiterates that there is no case for any TfL funding to be allocated to the Garden Bridge Trust and urges TfL to now enter into discussions to ensure that existing public money allocated to the project is fully recovered as quickly as possible.
If you made the effort to trek north to the Lilian Baylis school for the Cabinet Meeting on Monday 9th February you'd have been pretty miffed that this major meeting held to discuss the budget, close libraries and sack 500 staff, lasted less than 30 minutes.
Blink twice and you'd miss it.
Given the gravity of what was on the agenda maybe you'd also be tempted try to get it over with as quickly as possible? But Lambeth Council is meant to be a democracy, and a publicly accountable body, not some totalitarian state. People living in Lambeth, paying taxes and rent, are surely entitled to see their elected Labour councillors justifying their actions?
Once again Lambeth tops a league table of dubious merit. The Labour-run council that always claims it is short of money paid out more compensation for its manifold failings than any other London Borough for 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Not only that, according to research by the TaxPayers' Alliance, Lambeth Council shelled out compensation payments to the tune of £5,264,071 over the period - the highest such amount in the whole of England, Scotland and Wales. To put that into perspective, that's higher than for City Councils like Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, and Cardiff and Glasgow.
Lambeth Lib Dems have submitted a strong case for a Crossrail 2 underground station to be built in Streatham.
The party has pressed consistently for a Streatham link, and has now responded to the latest round of consultation on the proposed route for new cross London rail route. You can read our response here.