Critical council meeting this evening

The following motion will be moved by Cllr Darren Johnson (Green), seconded by Ian Page (Socialist Alternative) and will be supported by a rainbow alliance of opposition councillors.

“This Council does not believe that a convincing case for closing Ladywell Leisure Centre in 2007 has yet been made. The current plans have failed to command public support and the recent local election results reflect that. The Council therefore agrees to appoint independent advisors to investigate more appropriate sites for a new school in the north of the borough, rather than the Ladywell Leisure Centre site. The independent advisors will be commissioned jointly by the Mayor and the Leader of the largest opposition group, in consultation with councillors of all parties, parents’ representatives and teachers’ unions. Ladywell Leisure Centre must not close until a new Centre in the vicinity is fully operational and full Council must receive regular reports on all progress made and/or difficulties encountered”.

Now that Labour do not dominate in the council chamber the Mayor has had to change tack. In a letter sent out by the council’s solicitors, councillors are told that the Mayor makes all the decisions except those which he is expressly forbidden to make. In other words, don’t bother with your motion because the Mayor’s decision is final.

During the election campaign I promised changes to the Mayoral system and a referendum on the continuation of the executive Mayor. This letter highlights the problem with the current system.

Lewisham has an elected dictatorship, although we have more political diversity in the council chamber than we have had for decades it counts for nothing. I am sure that Darren and Ian will ignore the letter and propose the motion regardless, what happens then will be very interesting.

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