Looks like Liberal Democrat opposition leader on Lambeth Council, Ashley Lumsden, hasn’t updated his ‘Friends Reunited’ profile for a while. The councillor – who is not known for his modesty – is still claiming to be running Lambeth Council two years after voters booted him and his party out of office in a landslide defeat.
Lumsden, who updated his profile just hours after winning election in 2002, tells the world that he’s “a councillor on Lambeth Council representing Streatham Hill ward”. So far, so good. He continues: “following election wins in 2002 I’m now Executive Member for Finance in charge of a turnover of about one billion pounds.” Well, there’s one in the eye for all those other schoolboys who gave Ashley such a rough time of it at school in Surrey!
Quick though he was to boast about his newfound importance in 2002, Lumsden neglects to tell his old school chums how after putting council tax up 40% and losing £3 million in the biggest housing fraud case in British local government history, his cunning election strategy led the Liberal Democrats to their biggest defeat in the country in 2006. Still, no point giving those rough boys from school any more ammunition, is there?
As energy costs skyrocket across the world, Lambeth’s Liberal Democrats have come up with one of their craziest outbursts yet. As Labour councillors debated ways to reduce fuel increases for hard-pressed tenants, Liberal Democrats ATTACKED fixed-price fuel contracts that have helped to keep residents’ bills low.
People living on estates with shared heating systems pay for their heating at costs negotiated by the council from suppliers. For the past three years, residents in Lambeth have benefited from prices fixed three years ago when prices were much lower than today. The fixed-price contract expired this year, meaning big cost increases for tenants who were suddenly hit by the price hikes imposed by energy companies as a result of soaring prices in the global markets for oil and gas. Other energy users have already been hit by the price hikes, but for tenants on affected estates are only just seeing the price rises come through.
Residents at the town hall meeting were astonished to see the confused Liberal Democrat housing spokesman, Councillor Jeremy Clyne, denounce fixed-price deals and demand that tenants should not be allowed to benefit from them. Observers were left asking if he was simply jealous that his own bills to heat his million-pound mansion overlooking leafy Tooting Common were so much higher.
Liberal Democrats in Lambeth are threatening hard-pressed local families with yet more massive council tax hikes just like the last time they were in charge at the town hall. The news has been met with outrage from people already struggling with rising prices for heating, lighting and food as the worldwide credit crunch bites.
Earlier this year, energy companies in Britain announced massive increases in the cost of gas and electricity as world fuel prices soared. Now, those costs are about to hit tenants in Lambeth as the Labour Council’s fixed-price deal with the energy suppliers comes to an end. Labour is demanding more help from the energy companies to aid poorer households who will be worst affected by price increases that could be as high as 160% for estates with communal heating.
But the Lib Dems continue to attack those who can least afford it. At a time when families are cash-strapped the Lib Dems want to force their council tax up even higher to support town-hall spending when what is really needed is new ways to help people pay for higher bills.
In a cynical and ridiculous ploy, Lib Dems are claiming that the global fuel price increase is the fault of Lambeth Council! They are demanding that fuel bills for SOME residents should be subsidised by the council – meaning huge council tax rises for EVERY OTHER FAMILY already struggling to pay their own higher fuel bills. They know their proposals are completely undeliverable but are hoping no one will notice the cynical political game they’re playing. The proposals are not even targeted at the most needy – they are designed to appeal to voters living in marginal wards that the Lib Dems hope are gullible enough to believe them.
Last time they were in charge the Lib Dems put council tax up 40%. Their latest plans would send many of the borough’s poorest residents into more and more debt.