Lambeth London Borough Council

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Lambeth London Borough Council, which styles itself Lambeth Council, is the local authority for the London Borough of Lambeth in Greater London, England. It is a London borough council, one of the 32 in London. The council has been under Labour majority control since 2006. The council meets at Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton and has its main offices at the nearby Civic Centre.

Lambeth London Borough Council
Coat of arms or logo
Coat of arms
Council logo
John-Paul Ennis,
since 24 April 2024[1]
Claire Holland,
since 2 June 2021
Bayo Dosunmu
since July 2022[2]
Seats63 councillors[3]
Political groups
Administration (58)
  Labour (58)
Other parties (5)
  Liberal Democrats (3)
  Green (2)
First past the post
Last election
5 May 2022
Next election
7 May 2026
Meeting place
Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London, SW2 1RW

History edit

The area of the modern borough had historically been part of the county of Surrey, and generally corresponds to the three ancient parishes of Lambeth, Clapham and Streatham. From 1856 the area was governed by the Metropolitan Board of Works, which was established to provide services across the metropolis of London.[4] In 1889 the Metropolitan Board of Works' area was made the County of London. From 1856 until 1900 the lower tier of local government within the metropolis comprised various parish vestries and district boards; the parish of Lambeth was governed by its vestry, whilst Clapham and Streatham were both included in the Wandsworth District. In 1900 the lower tier was reorganised into metropolitan boroughs. The parish of Lambeth became the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth, and the old Wandsworth District became the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth.[5]

The modern borough was created in 1965 under the London Government Act 1963. It was a merger of the old borough of Lambeth and the Clapham and Streatham areas from the old Wandsworth borough.[6] The council's full legal name is the "Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Lambeth".[7]

From 1965 until 1986 the council was a lower-tier authority, with upper-tier functions provided by the Greater London Council. The split of powers and functions meant that the Greater London Council was responsible for "wide area" services such as fire, ambulance, flood prevention, and refuse disposal; with the boroughs (including Lambeth) responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986 and its functions passed to the London Boroughs, with some services provided through joint committees.[8] Lambeth became a local education authority in 1990 when the Inner London Education Authority was dissolved.[9]

In 1985, the council under the leadership of Ted Knight joined other left-wing councils in a rate-capping rebellion, although only Liverpool and Lambeth refused to set a legal budget.[10] All 34 Labour councillors present voted on 7 March 1985 not to set a rate.[11] On 9 September 1985 the district auditor for Lambeth gave notice that the delay in fixing the rates was wilful misconduct and so the councillors were required to repay the £126,947 costs as a surcharge. The amount per councillor was over £2,000 and therefore they were also disqualified from office.[12][13] The surcharged councillors from Lambeth appealed against the surcharges.[14] The High Court delivered its judgment on 6 March 1986, finding heavily against the councils; Lord Justice Glidewell described the stance of the councillors as "mere political posturing"; Mr Justice Caulfield described the evidence of wilful misconduct as "crushing" and the councillors' stance as having "reached a pinnacle of political perversity".[15] The councillors were disqualified on 30 March.[16][17] During this period, Lambeth became known the archetype of what critics described as a "loony left" council.[18]

Since 2000 the Greater London Authority has taken some responsibility for highways and planning control from the council, but within the English local government system the council remains a "most purpose" authority in terms of the available range of powers and functions.[19]

In July 2021 the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published a report that was highly critical of the council and which said serious abuse had been allowed to occur in five of Lambeth's children's homes between the 1960s and 1990s; over 700 children had suffered cruelty and sexual abuse,[20] although the Inquiry believed that the figure was likely to be significantly higher.[21] The Inquiry found that a "culture of cover-up" had led to the abuse continuing over decades; the Council made an "unreserved apology to the victims".[20]

Governance edit

The local authority derives its powers and functions from the London Government Act 1963 and subsequent legislation, and has the powers and functions of a London borough council. It sets council tax and as a billing authority also collects precepts for Greater London Authority functions and business rates.[22] It sets planning policies which complement Greater London Authority and national policies, and decides on almost all planning applications accordingly. It is a local education authority and is also responsible for council housing, social services, libraries, waste collection and disposal, traffic, and most roads and environmental health.[23]

Political control edit

The council has been under Labour majority control since 2006.

The first election was held in 1964, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until it came into its powers on 1 April 1965. Political control of the council since 1965 has been as follows:[24]

Party in control Years
Labour 1965–1968
Conservative 1968–1971
Labour 1971–1982
No overall control 1982–1986
Labour 1986–1994
No overall control 1994–1998
Labour 1998–2002
No overall control 2002–2006
Labour 2006–present

Leadership edit

The role of Mayor of Lambeth is largely ceremonial. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 1965 have been:[25][26][27]

Councillor Party From To
Archie Cotton Labour 1965 1968
Bernard Perkins[28] Conservative 1968 1971
Charles Dryland Labour 1971 1973
David Stimpson Labour 1973 1978
Ted Knight Labour 1978 26 May 1982
Robin Pitt[29] Conservative 26 May 1982 Nov 1982
Ted Knight[30] Labour Nov 1982 1986
Linda Bellos Labour 1986 1988
Dick Sorabji Labour 1988 1989
Joan Twelves Labour 1989 1993
Steve Whaley Labour 1993 1994
No leader 1994 1998
Jim Dickson Labour 1998 2000
Tom Franklin Labour 2000 23 May 2002
Peter Truesdale Liberal Democrats 23 May 2002 24 May 2006
Steve Reed Labour 24 May 2006 3 Dec 2012
Lib Peck[31] Labour 30 Jan 2013 13 Feb 2019
Jack Hopkins[32][33] Labour 13 Feb 2019 2 Jun 2021
Claire Holland[34] Labour 2 Jun 2021

In 1986, Linda Bellos was the second Black woman to become leader of a British local authority, after Merle Amory in the London Borough of Brent.[35]

Composition edit

Following the 2022 election and changes of allegiance and by-elections up to May 2024, the composition of the council was as follows:[36][37]

Party Councillors
Labour 58
Liberal Democrats 3
Green 2
Total 63

The next election is due in May 2026.

Premises edit

Lambeth Civic Centre, 6 Brixton Hill, London, SW2 1EG: Council's main offices since 2018

The council meets at Lambeth Town Hall on Brixton Hill in Brixton, which was completed in 1908 for the old Lambeth Borough Council.[38] The council's main offices are at Lambeth Civic Centre at 6 Brixton Hill, a short distance south of the Town Hall. The civic centre was purpose-built for the council and opened in 2018.[39]

Olive Morris House, 18 Brixton Hill: Council's offices 1978–2018, since demolished

The civic centre replaced the council's previous main offices at 18 Brixton Hill, which had been built in 1978 and was named 'Olive Morris House' in 1986 after Olive Morris (1952–1979), a local community leader and activist.[40][41]

Elections edit

Since the last boundary changes in 2022 the council has comprised 63 councillors representing 25 wards, with each ward electing two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[42] The wards are:[43]

Notable councillors edit

Green Party edit

Liberal Democrats edit

Conservative Party edit

Labour Party edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Council minutes, 24 April 2024". Lambeth Council. Retrieved 9 May 2024.
  2. ^ "Future Forum". Municipal Journal. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  3. ^ "Open Council Data UK – compositions councillors parties wards elections". Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  4. ^ Metropolis Management Act 1855 (18 & 19 Vict. c. 120)
  5. ^ London Government Act 1899 (62 & 63 Vict. c. 14)
  6. ^ Youngs, Frederic (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England. Vol. I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0-901050-67-9.
  7. ^ "Insurance London Consortium Agreement" (PDF). Sutton Council. Retrieved 24 April 2024.
  8. ^ "Local Government Act 1985",, The National Archives, 1985 c. 51, retrieved 5 April 2024
  9. ^ Education Reform Act 1988 (c. 40)
  10. ^ Not the echo! Liverpool Labour News, (a newspaper published by the Labour Party in 1985), '6,0000 jobs threatened', p1. The article was written by Militant member Felicity Dowling.
  11. ^ Stewart Morris, "No Surrender", South London Press, 12 March 1985, p. 21.
  12. ^ Hugh Clayton, Peter Davenport, "Rebel councillors' £233,000 penalty", The Times, 10 September 1985, p. 1.
  13. ^ Grant, "Rate Capping and the Law", p. 71-2.
  14. ^ "Rates fight 'legal'", South London Press, 21 January 1986, p. 2.
  15. ^ "Judges rap rebels for wilful misconduct", South London Press, 7 March 1986, p. 3.
  16. ^ Stewart Morris, "Power bid by Tories hit by rule change", South London Press, 2 April 1986, p. 2.
  17. ^ Hugh Clayton, "Lambeth rates rebels given time to pay surcharge of £105,000", The Times, 31 July 1986.
  18. ^ "Radical Lambeth". Lambeth London Borough Council. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 12 July 2023.
  19. ^ Leach, Steve (1998). Local Government Reorganisation: The Review and its Aftermath. Routledge. p. 107. ISBN 978-0714648590.
  20. ^ a b Easton, Mark (27 July 2021). "Culture of cover-up saw hundreds of children abused in Lambeth, report finds". BBC News Online. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  21. ^ Butler, Patrick (27 July 2021). "Hundreds of children abused while in care of Lambeth council, inquiry finds". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  22. ^ "Council Tax and Business Rates Billing Authorities". Council Tax Rates. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  23. ^ "Local Plan Responses – within and outside London". Mayor of London. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  24. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  25. ^ "Council minutes". Lambeth Council. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  26. ^ "London Boroughs Political Almanac". London Councils. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  27. ^ Passmore, Michael (2015). The responses of Labour-controlled London local authorities to major changes in housing policy, 1971–1973 (PDF). London: King's College London. p. 280. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  28. ^ "Council will not raise 'totting' offer". Birmingham Daily Post. 24 February 1969. p. 15. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  29. ^ "Rebel mayor ousts Labour". Daily Mirror. 27 May 1982. p. 5. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  30. ^ Webster, Philip (13 November 1982). "Knight back in control at Lambeth". The Times. London. p. 2.
  31. ^ "Lib Peck appointed to lead London's new Violence Reduction Unit". Mayor of London. 14 January 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  32. ^ "Jack Hopkins to replace Lib Peck as Lambeth leader". London SE1. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  33. ^ Slingsby, Alan (10 May 2021). "Lambeth Council leader Jack Hopkins steps down". Brixton Blog. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  34. ^ "Cllr Claire Holland set to be new Leader of Lambeth Council". Lambeth Labour. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  35. ^ Mason-John, Valerie (1995). Talking Black: Lesbians of African and Asian Descent Speak Out. Cassell. p. xv.
  36. ^ Cobb, Jason (28 February 2024). "Lambeth faces by-election as Labour Councillor Sonia Winifred resigns amidst Gaza ceasefire controversy". Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  37. ^ Cobb, Jason (3 May 2024). "By-election success for Labour with Streatham Common & Vale and Knight's Hill both returning Labour candidates". Brixton Buzz. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  38. ^ Historic England. "Lambeth Town Hall (Grade II) (1080534)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 April 2024.
  39. ^ "Your New Town Hall - Lambeth Civic Centre". GL Hearn. Retrieved 22 April 2024.
  40. ^ Osborne, Angelina (2 August 2020). "Black History Month: The Power of Olive Morris". Fawcett Society. Archived from the original on 23 April 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  41. ^ "Olive Morris House". Engdesign. Retrieved 24 April 2024.
  42. ^ "The London Borough of Lambeth (Electoral Changes) Order 2022",, The National Archives, SI 2022/37, retrieved 24 April 2024
  43. ^ "Electoral ward boundary review | Lambeth Council". Retrieved 21 April 2022.