A Conservative councillor has spoken out against Labour-run Lambeth Council's incompetence.

In an exclusive interview with Blasting News, Councillor Tim Briggs, Leader of Lambeth Council's Conservative Group, has said the Labour Party has embarked on a kind of "social cleansing" in relation to the #London council's housing policy.

His comments come as the Brixton Buzz reported that Lambeth Council has been asked to deploy discretionary powers to prevent residents from becoming intentionally homeless once they fall into rent arrears during a full council meeting last Wednesday.

Councillor Paul McGone, Deputy Leader of the #Labour Group, blamed Westminster's welfare policy for making people intentionally homeless, despite claims the London council has assisted 440 families with their benefits.

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Lambeth Council needs urgent reform

Councillor Briggs disagreed with these claims and said: "Lambeth Council needs urgent reform. The way they contact housing developers is antiquated. There is no consistency with contracts. They cannot manage £2 billion worth of housing stock. There is no proper advice. The Labour council is always blaming the central government.

"They spent £7.2 million between 2014-18 on political spin. They have also spent £104 million on a new town hall. This is astonishing negligence from a one-party state with a tiny opposition.

"It is very inhumane what Labour is doing. They have demolished loads of houses and are borrowing loads of money. Leaseholders cannot get the full value of their property as they have to pay more in rent and utility charges. The deal is a bad one.

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Labour do not care about tenants

"Labour do not care about tenants. They are using legal loopholes to regenerate estates and demolishing legal rights whilst hoping people are grateful Labour have given them new homes. They have become a political elite in the sense that the establishment is screwing over people to keep them in power."

Lambeth Council issued a link explaining its housing policy and the construction of the new town hall on Brixton Hill, which was originally costed at £68 million, saying both policies will aid local businesses planning on opening in the area. They defended their decision to Blasting News by stating the council’s total budget for the ‘Your New Town Hall’ project is £104m: this includes a total construction cost for the Town Hall/Civic Centre work currently forecasted at £68m, plus additional spending on items including the provision of new homes. Of this total sum, £66.2m represents a temporary investment of the Council's cash balances, repayable in full with interest.

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They also defended their Estate Regeneration Programme for not "demolishing houses" as their housing proposals have not yet been presented to the Planning Applications Committee.

Lambeth Green Councillor, Scott Ainslie, has also criticised the London council's financial mismanagement, claiming it is astonishing they have wasted money on their internal PR agency, Lambeth Communications. But the London council justified this decision by saying the framework is a practical development that will support Lamco in its commercial work, which brings additional revenue into the council. It will also provide the council with additional capacity in a number of areas where internal capacity is minimal, and in the delivery of services to clients, externally and internally. Lambeth Council stressed that the cost of these services will be fully recouped from clients (internal and external). They also said the framework does not set out guaranteed work for anyone, and the report doesn’t amount to a decision to spend millions of pounds. According to Lambeth Council, it is a list of preferred suppliers that they may use for the council and Lamco.

Last month, the People's Audit challenged Lambeth Council to come clean over the smear and secrecy coming from its Town Hall. The group of ten Lambeth residents invited the Labour Group to collaborate with them in a bid to save their public finances.

This report followed one earlier in the year that found that widespread financial mismanagement was taking place at Lambeth Council. After an initial radio silence from Lambeth Labour, the governing group responded by trying to portray the People's Audit as "political opponents."

Councillor Briggs condemned Lambeth Council for failing to save £25 million-a-year since the 2008 Recession started.

They should have done the right thing at the right time

He added: "The Labour Group has removed a lot of staff to remove £25 million-a-year off the wage bill. If they attempted to make £25 million-a-year in savings since 2008, they would have saved £200 million by 2016. They should have done the right thing at the right time.

"Lambeth is the 22nd most deprived borough in the country. We are stuck in this quagmire of poverty. Labour entrenches people in poverty.

"They have ignored the People's Audit's warnings regarding the new town hall. They said it would cost £50 million and save £2 million-a-year. There is no clarity where the money is coming from. Now, the new town hall costs £104 million and it is likely to go up.

"There is no transparency. Lambeth is a one-party state council. It is hard to acquire any information from them that is needed. It is very undemocratic."

Lambeth Council has acknowledged that, while the People's Audit report does raise issues which the council will examine (and in some cases has already done so) they have not seen any evidence to support the allegation of “extensive financial mismanagement”.

Lambeth Council said the final document contains suggestions, assertions and straightforward errors which, taken together, give a sensational but inaccurate account of Lambeth’s finances. #Labour Party