Cllr Guy Senior is the Cabinet Member for Finance on Wandsworth Council.
Here in Wandsworth we have the extraordinary position of our Labour group voting against a proposal for two rebuilt libraries, a rebuilt health centre; and the Council building a thousand new homes. The libraries and health centre should not cost taxpayers anything.
You would have thought that these are just the sort of schemes that Labour would like but they seem determined to find an excuse to vote against them. In the case of a rebuilt library in Battersea, they appear to oppose it because it means a temporary relocation of a private nursery school. In the case of another library and adjacent health centre (in a Labour ward) they opposed the rebuilding because they did not like the legal form of the joint venture. This strikes me a looking for excuses.
In the case of our proposal to build a thousand new homes, they merely say it is not enough and so want nothing rather than something. Again many of these homes would be in wards they control – wards they claim need more homes for local people. Over 60 per cent of the houses being built will be classified as “affordable” under the Mayor of London’s definition, well above the usual target of 35 per cent yet they still oppose.
But is this the real reason? Perhaps not. The two library schemes will be financed by private housing developments – at no cost to the taxpayer. Is this what Labour really opposes? Of course our neighbouring Labour borough, Lambeth, is closing libraries. Is this what Labour want or do they want to spend taxpayers’ money when it is not needed?
As for housing, it is that the housing will not all be social rent, but will include shared ownership units, that let local people own something of their own? Is this what Labour wants – to stop home ownership?
Tooting’s Labour MP complained about homelessness at Prime Minister’s Questions recently. She is a Wandsworth councillor too. Why do her Council colleagues vote against new homes?