Southwark Liberal Democrats Blast Lack of Labour Scrutiny

The Southwark Liberal Democrats criticised the Labour administration on Monday for blocking moves for more oppositional scrutiny.

At Saturday’s annual council meeting, the Liberal Democrats nominated their own member for overview and scrutiny committee (OSC) chair.

OSC is the primary council body for scrutiny and it can challenge the administration’s delivery of services through formal powers.

The chair leads this scrutiny function and the constitution grants them additional powers compared to other members of the committee.

Although Liberal Democrat member Cllr Irina von Wiese, became OSC vice-chair, the group was disappointed that Labour voted against her nomination on Saturday for chair of the committee instead.

In the past, when the Liberal Democrat group ran the council, OSC chairs were frequently opposition councillors.

Labour similarly voted against Liberal Democrat nominations for north-west and north-east community champions at Saturday’s annual meeting.

Community champions chair multi-ward meetings that grant funding to resident applications such as those made to the Neighbourhoods Fund, which has £630,000 to spend on local projects.

Commenting, Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Southwark Liberal Democrat group leader said:

“I had hoped that Labour would understand that, even with an increased majority, it must not erode full democratic checks and balances in the council. It is beneficial for all residents if the administration gives diverse and dissenting perspectives a voice. However, Labour’s voting on Saturday made it clear that it prefers to mark its own homework in the future by not giving the opposition the ability to carry out proper scrutiny of the council.”