Lewisham Labour has released a colourful and well designed manifesto document for the 2022 local elections.
If, as widely tipped, the Labour Party retain control of Lewisham Council, this document will form the basis of the new administration’s corporate plan for the next four years.
In terms of governance, there are a few points to remember. The Boundary Commission has redrawn all the ward boundaries for this year. The total number of electoral divisions – wards – has increased from 18 to 19 wards but the grand total of Councillors remains the same at 54.
This means three wards will be represented by two Councillors and sixteen by three Councillors.
Lewisham Council is one of a handful of local councils that has a directly elected mayor as the leader of the authority. Voters express a first and second choice of candidate, if no candidate receives an absolute majority of first choice votes, all but the two leading candidates are eliminated, and the votes of those eliminated redistributed according to their second preferences.
However, Lewisham Council’s Councillors are elected by the first past the post method. On this ballot paper the number of votes given to each elector depends on the number of Councillors needed to represent the ward – in this case it will be two or three.
Interestingly, before a single vote is cast we know that there will be a huge turnover in the personalities. Just short of 40% of Lewisham Labour Councillors will not be returning after Thursday, 5th May 2022. These include former Leader of the Council, Jim Mallory. Jim was first elected in 1986 and has had a long and distinguished political career. He will be joined by Cllrs Obajimi Adefiranye, a longstanding Chair of the Council and national champion for black councillors, Pauline Morrison the current Vice Chair of the Council and former Head of Members’ Services and one of the newest Councillors, Samantha Latouche who joined after a by election on 6th May 2021. A short and distinguished career that included choosing and interviewing senior officer candidates’ as Chair of the Appointments Committee.
The new administration will have to grapple with a budget that was set with optimistic assumptions on pay and inflation, for example. The assumptions were agreed in July 2021 before the ‘cost of living crisis‘ had begun to hit hard.
Delivering the new manifesto commitments including building new homes will be a real challenge. Pressures on prices affect Councils. How will Lewisham Council pay its own gas bill? The current contract has expired and gas prices have rocketed. Commercial rates are not protected.
Here is the full manifesto document.Lewisham-Labour-Manifesto-2022
Currently, Lewisham Council has a Labour directly elected mayor and 54 Labour Councillors.