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Election victory gives us mandate to deliver a fairer, more ambitious Lambeth

Read Cllr Lib Peck's speech to the first Lambeth Council meeting following Labour's resounding local election victory:

"Thank you Mr Mayor

I am very proud, honoured and humbled to be standing in front of you this evening.

Tremendously proud to have led the Labour Party in Lambeth to its largest ever victory - 54% of the vote and with a huge 59 seats.

I’m hugely honoured to be the leader of a council whose reputation has changed over the last decade to one that is now recognised as a leading light in local government thinking and practice.

In a borough that is dynamic & diverse, creative & innovative.

And very humbled by the fact that all of that only happens because people in my street, in my local area, who know me, had enough trust in me to go out and vote. I’d like to thank them and everyone who voted.

On 22 May Labour achieved an overwhelming victory in Lambeth, surprising even the most optimistic of us - winning seats in places we were not targeting.

Amongst our new intake, is our youngest ever councillor in Thurlow park; Anna Birley only 25, our first ever Portuguese councillor in Stockwell Guilherme de Rosa, & the first Asian women since I was elected; Saleha, in St Leonard's and Rezina in Streatham Hill. Labour has a team that is made up of 1/3 BME candidates & women make up nearly half of Group.

I believe we won this landslide victory for three reasons.

Firstly, residents recognised our achievements over 4 years.

From low council tax to excellent street cleaning from new leisure centres to investment in council housing. It is the fifth election I have fought and it was noticeable this time how few complaints people had on the door and how many people recognised Lambeth's improvements.

Secondly, we won because our campaign was positive & focused on what we wanted to do. In an era when politicians struggle for credibility I believe there is no sure fire way to put people off engaging & voting than negative party political mudslinging. We avoided that.

And finally we won because we promised a forward looking set of policies. Positive but realistic in tough times. 

From greater investment in affordable housing and roads to training & apprenticeships for young people.

From free breakfasts for primary schools to befriending networks for elderly people.

These chimed with our residents’ concerns.

But before looking ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the next four years. I do want to welcome and thank a few people.

Of all the headlines I am not sure that ‘a bad day for democracy’ was particularly appropriate. Turnout was 36% turn out and at least 12 candidates stood in each ward. But getting behind the headlines I think this was trying to articulate a concern that we will not be held to account. But I want to assure you that we will continue to listen residents, to work inclusively, and of course, work with 4 opposition members where our agendas align. 

I want to thank Lambeth’s Democratic Services team who got through the business quickly and efficiently.

And in I want to recognise the work of some of the councillors from last administration:

- The Whelans put a huge amount of time into the council and I hope they have a long and happy retirement

- The trio of Lib Dem leaders all of whom lost their seat – from Peter Truesdale; a friend, to Alex Davies who was only really just beginning to enjoy his role and Ashley Lumsden.

From Labour side I want to pay tribute to all of our colleagues particularly Dave Malley, who provided steadfast support, acted as a mentor and was a great source of advice and wisdom. 

We have a huge challenge ahead.

We stood on platform of twin values of ambition & fairness, of opportunity & social justice. Good Labour values. These will determine our work.

We are a cooperative council which underlines our commitment to work with communities – essentially evening out power between officers, councillors, and community and continuing our drive to end a town hall knows best attitude. 

But it will not be an easy four years to be a councillor. There’s significant gap between the haves and have nots in our society and borough. Unemployment is still too high and there is a shortage of genuinely affordable homes.

We are subjected to the most profound cuts in history of local government. By 2016 we will have lost 50% of our funding.

We will need to shift the debate from how to how to cut 50%, to how to spend 50% of our money wisely.

It means we will have to focus on a preventative agenda – think about how we prevent homelessness from rising, how to allocate our resources to tackle mental illness, to find ways to reduce the number of children who enter the care system.

We will need to strengthen community resilience – our new Neighbourhood Leads will help to add a geographical knowledge and insight to the different areas and communities - reaching out to those who don’t have the loudest voice. 

Taking up this challenge directly is the Cabinet. I would like to welcome the new cabinet members and deputies – Matthew, Jane, Jenny, Marcia, Mo, Martin. And thank outgoing members – Lorna, Pete & Sally. And Jackie; an invaluable deputy.

But of course this is a challenge for all of us. As elected representatives we have a duty to be diligent, creative, and ambitious for our borough and its residents. I am sure it is a challenge we will rise to."

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