2019 has been very busy for us so far. On the national scale, we’ve continued campaigning to keep our security, prosperity, our place in the world as well as our rights and freedoms that membership of the European Union has given us.
Brexit is less than 600 hours away and we will continue to keep up the pressure to pause and give the public their say on the deal in a People’s Vote.
At Southwark Council’s Town Hall, our councillors have been working hard to hold the Labour administration to account. Firstly, Labour announced plans to cut library opening hours, despite promising in the election last year that they would keep all libraries open. After we interrogated them at the Council’s ‘Overview & Scrutiny Committee’ they suddenly found a £1million down the back of the sofa to stop their own cuts from going through!
We then proposed schemes to fund a dedicated knife-crime unit in Southwark and a new ‘hub’ for rough-sleepers. Last year, Southwark had the highest level of knife-crime in capital, and as many rough-sleepers died on Southwark street as in all of Birmingham.
These plans were fully-costed and signed-off as deliverable by independent council officers. We suggested saving money by cutting press officers in favour of police officers, reducing the number of unnecessary perks such as Golden Goodbyes and introducing a voluntary ‘tourist tax’ but sadly Labour tribalism meant they weren’t willing to back the plans.
We did however get them to concede a little ground, and the Council will fund a few police officers for the Night-time economy. Labour had previously argued the Council would not and should not do, though it’s only a small fraction of the number of officers our plans were able to fund.
However, yet again, as we did with keeping libraries open, investing in youth services, reducing plastic and improving energy usage across the borough, we have set the agenda and forced Labour to take up our policies and priorities.
2019 looks set to get even busier, but with your help we can fight for a Liberal London and a Liberal Britain. We can build a city and a country that works for all.
Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, Leader of the Southwark Liberal Democrat Council Group