Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/445/5289
Labour defeated over schools and pool...
LEWISHAM SOCIALIST Party councillors Ian Page and Chris Flood are leading the way in two long-running campaigns; the fight for a new school in the north of the borough and the battle to save Ladywell swimming pool.
Under the last Labour administration, Labour mayor, Steve Bullock, rejected parents' demands to build a much-needed school in the north of Lewisham. Instead, they decided to demolish the recently refurbished swimming pool and build a school on that site!
The Socialist Party opposed this from the start and all opposition parties followed this line in the May elections.
Lewisham is now a hung council, so straight after the election Ian Page, the Socialist Party group leader on the council, immediately called on the other opposition parties - LibDems, Greens and Tories - to live up to their commitment and fight for the school and pool.
On 12 June, Ian and Chris successfully moved the report criticising the mayor's decision and calling for the site of the school to be reviewed. At the full council meeting two days later, the Socialist Party jointly moved a motion formally calling on the mayor to look for a new site for the school and to keep Ladywell Pool open.
All opposition parties voted for this, so Labour were defeated in full council for the first time in years to the delight of the packed public gallery of pool and school campaigners. However, Labour claim that the final decision rests with the Mayor, so the Socialist Party will keep fighting alongside campaigners to try and ensure the council's decision is implemented.
Ian Page commented: "I'm pleased we pressured the other political groups to support this campaign. We told them this must be a priority, we weren't going to let them put it on the back burner once they were safely elected into the Town Hall. Now we'll build the campaign outside the council chamber to make sure we win!"
Chris Flood added: "The Labour group have continuously tried to use legal and procedural tactics to stop us changing their policies since they lost their majority. But I have challenged the Head of Law on this and the Socialist Party will continue to fight their undemocratic procedures".
... but campaigning continues
LEWISHAM'S LABOUR Group, backed up by the council's Tory chair, tried to rule the motion 'unlawful' as it included the sentence "the council agrees to appoint independent advisers to investigate more appropriate sites for a new school".
This power, the council's legal officer argued, could only be exercised by the mayor, not councillors. To get the motion debated, an amendment had to be moved replacing "agrees" with "calls upon the mayor" to appoint advisers.
Yet in June 2005 a motion (also moved by Ian Page) had been debated - and defeated - with the sentence "the council therefore agrees to appoint independent advisers to investigate potential sites for a new school".
The difference? New Labour lost its majority on the council! Unfortunately for them, Socialist Party councillors aren't intimidated by their 'legal' bullying tactics.
In The Socialist 22 June 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party LGBT
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news