In My View in Today's Daily Echo
Thanks to the Daily Echo for allowing me to state why I’ve resigned from the Labour Group of councillors at Southampton City Council. It’s a decision that I agonised over.
Having broken free, I now feel liberated from the chains of a Labour Group of councillors that is failing Southampton. The Labour Party is failing people across the South. Don’t just take my word for it. That’s what the voters brutally told Labour two weeks ago.
On the World this Weekend on Sunday, the MP heading up the review of Labour’s defeat, Jon Cruddas, stated that “arguably, it’s one of the great crises of the Labour Party’s history.” I agreed on the same programme – the South resembles a sea of blue with a few specks of red – like Labour’s seal pup ripped up by the Tory killer whale - horrific but nonetheless instructive.
This Labour Council has had three years. But there has been a lack of vision, a lack of strong leadership, and a lack of sufficient generation of revenue and municipal enterprise that could help save services and jobs. It’s been done by other councils, Labour, Tory, Lib Dem – but not in Southampton. Why?
A Labour Council should NEVER cut services like libraries in areas that badly need them, like the Redbridge ward that I represent.
A Labour Council should be able to protect Sure Start services as well as keeping centres open.
A Labour Council should be able to get funding to regenerate Southampton’s Council estates.
A Labour Council should be able to protect disabled bus passes.
But it has failed, because it hasn’t innovated or been led correctly. The job of a Leader, Cabinet and Executive is to provide strategic leadership, for Council officers to advise and carry out as instructed. That hasn’t happened. And it’s about to get a great deal worse under this Tory majority Government.
I will continue to represent the people of Redbridge ward as vigorously as I have done over the last four years, whether the Labour Party remains “in control” of Southampton City Council or not.
Andrew Pope, Independent Councillor for Redbridge ward