Lambeth’s Co-op Commission appointed

Polly Toynbee

Polly Toynbee

Lambeth has announced the great-and-good who will sit on its Cooperative Commission, and it’s a pretty strong list:

  • Polly Toynbee, journalist and commentator
  • Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of the charity Turning Point
  • Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts
  • Srabani Sen, chief executive of Contact a Family
  • Martin Green, chief executive of the English Community Care Association
  • Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
  • Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Social Enterprise London
  • Richard Bridge, chair of Waterloo Community Coalition

It’s an eye-catching list. Toynbee is a local resident who has written at length on the problems of poorer people and their encounters with front-line service providers. Taylor was a major player behind New Labour thinking as a policy wonk. These “independent Commissions”, as Lambeth describes them, will be joined by the three existing Labour Lambeth commissioners from Lambeth’s Cabinet: council leader Steve Reed, and councillors Jackie Meldrum and Paul McGlone.

What will this commission do?

Independent experts and residents who will join Lambeth’s Co-op Commission announced | Lambeth Council:

The Commission will gather opinion and evidence from a wide range of people about how the co-operative council might work in practice, and what services would benefit from a co-operative approach.

It will identify new services where the cooperative model can be piloted, and will explore how the approach can be rolled out across further service areas later this year. All the Commissioners have vast experience and knowledge of public services and can offer guidance, advice and challenge proposals put forward during this process.

Job one: a public meeting on 29 July from 6-8.30pm at Lambeth Town Hall, at which anyone can present their views directly to the commissioners, which should be fascinating. Email [email protected] if you wish to attend.

One thing we do think is missing from this Commission is representation from the other main political parties. So far this has been very much a Labour undertaking, and if it’s going to bed in for the long term, the Co-op Council model is going to need some level of buy-in from the Tories and LibDems. But we are impressed by that group of names, and there’s no doubt that Reed and Labour are serious about this. Watch this space.

UPDATE: We’ve just read a pretty angry post on onionbagblog about this Commission. His point is that the Commission has been rebranded – it was formerly called the Citizen’s Commission – and that these appointments are little more than Labour-supporting types, most of whom aren’t even residents. Not sure we agree with that point of view entirely, and we certainly believe that Lambeth is trying to consult with people on these issues, and what’s emerging is perhaps a more structured debate about council services than is taking place in Lewisham and Southwark, where things have very quickly broken down into those who see cuts as inevitable and those who see cuts as evil. But we do think this needs to move beyond Labour policy groups into the wide body politic, and pretty fast, as we say above.

Image of Polly Toynbee courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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