Local government experience

 In About Steve, Croydon

Before becoming MP for Croydon North, I was Leader of Lambeth Council. I led Labour back to power against the odds in 2006, defeating a failed Tory-Lib Dem coalition at a time when Labour was unpopular nationally.  Lambeth was the only council in the country Labour won back that year, and we were delighted to win re-election with an increased majority in 2010.

I’m proud of what I achieved together with a great team of colleagues at Lambeth. Among the highlights for me are:

  • Improving services for vulnerable children from the worst 3% in the country to the very best in the country, as rated by Ofsted.
  • Protecting all Lambeth’s libraries from closure and opening a brand new one in Clapham at a time when many councils were closing theirs.
  • Opening the brand new Clapham Leisure Centre and swimming pool, and seeing work begin on the new Streatham Leisure Centre, pool and ice rink, and the new West Norwood swimming pool.
  • Freezing council tax for six years at one of the lowest levels in the country by stabilising the council’s finances after the Lib Dems and Tories left the council with zero reserves despite their whopping 38% council-tax hike.
  • Leading the biggest increase in diverse representation in the country in 2006, with a big increase in Labour councillors from Lambeth’s black and minority ethnic communities.
  • Chairing the vast Vauxhall-Nine Elms regeneration strategy board, the biggest regeneration scheme in the country creating 16,000 new homes and around 25,000 new jobs as well as plans to extend the Northern Line to Battersea and remove the Vauxhall gyratory system to recreate the old town centre.
  • Overseeing plans for the regeneration of Waterloo and the South Bank, including rebuilding the Shell Centre, Elizabeth House and Waterloo Station.
  • Developing a new approach to tackling violent gang crime – with the successful ‘Young and Safe in Lambeth’ initiative, and the innovative Young Lambeth Cooperative youth services trust that is handing more control to the community.
  • Stabilising Lambeth’s housing service, which had previously been failing, and securing financing to upgrade 15,000 sub-standard homes over a 5-year period.
  • Biggest-ever investment in better roads and pavements across the borough – despite massive Government funding cuts.
  • Regeneration of central Brixton, with a new town square, upgrading works to Brixton Rec, improved and widened pavements, better traffic circulation, improved local policing, local currency the Brixton Pound, and the regeneration of the once-empty Granville Arcade as Brixton Village – a thriving hub of micro-restaurants and bars.
  • Launching the Community Green Champions scheme, which helped support dozens of local sustainability projects including Brixton Energy.