Lambeth Talk and Green issues on agenda as Council takes Scrutiny on the road to Streatham Library

Lambeth Talk

Lambeth Council is taking the Overview and Scrutiny Committee out on the road with the next meeting heading over to Streatham Library for a public session on December 11.

As the name suggests, the remit of Scrutiny is to:

“Review or scrutinise decisions made and make reports and recommendations on matters which are the responsibility of the authority or which affect the local area.”

In the absence of any political opposition in the almost one-party state, then Scrutiny is increasingly vital in Lambeth.

As with Full Council, Lambeth now likes to theme these sessions. There is a ‘Cleaner and Greener’ theme for Scrutiny in December. Although this is a key issue, it doesn’t mean that the Streatham Scrutiny Roadshow is limited in scope.

The agenda has now been published. It includes other issues that are worthy of exploration.

The ongoing political argument over Lambeth Talk will get a look in at Scrutiny. We blogged last month how Eric Pickles, the Tory Minister for the Department of Communities and Local Government is trying to shut down the monthly magazine / newspaper published by Lambeth Council. January 2015 has been set by Pickles as the date to cease publication.

A set of pre-submitted questions for Scrutiny also asks about Lambeth Talk. These comes from resident Graham Pycock – a former Conservative Cllr who lost his Thurlow Park seat back in May of this year.

Pycock’s questions include:

“What is the council’s position with regard to current Dept for Communities and Local Government advice on the publication of regular newspapers such as Lambeth talk?”

The pre-published response from Scrutiny is a letter from Chief Exec Derrick Anderson that has already surfaced as part of Pycock’s recent Freedom of Information request regarding Lambeth Talk.

Pycock also asks about the reach of the Lambeth Talk readership.

The reply given is:

“Eighty-one per cent of respondents told us that they thought Lambeth Talk was very useful and represented value for money.”

Plus staffing is also touched upon:

“Lambeth Talk is overseen by a communications officer who edits the magazine and a designer. It also has contributions from the councils communications team, the wider council and partner organisations. The officers who oversee the magazine also have other responsibilities.”

Ex-Cllr Peacock will get the chance to ask a supplementary question at Scrutiny in Streatham. The pre-submitted questions are just the warm-up act…

The Cleaner and Greener angle of the meeting will receive the Environmental Crime Scrutiny Commission report.

This includes recommendations for a greater use of fixed penalty notices for fly tipping, a zero tolerance approach to public urination, dog fouling & spitting, plus a re-think of how much Lambeth Council charges for bulk waste collection.

A Clean and Green report will also be up for consideration. It shows rather worryingly that re-cycling rates are down in the borough, although there has been an increase in waste from 8,300 t in 2011/12 to 12,500 t in 2013/14.

The seven year contract with Veoilia Environmental to manage waste collection in the borough was renewed this year to extend as far ahead as March 2021.

One of the recommendations for future waste policy is to not be so hasty when cleaning up fly tipping.

The report states:

“Collecting fly tips less frequently will support the delivery of this community message, by allowing the perpetrator to understand the impact of their behaviour.”

Anyone can attend Scrutiny at Streatham Library on 11 December. Council officers will be available from 6pm – 7pm for an informal chat. The formal meeting starts at 7pm.