How refreshing. From the front agenda sheet of the Lambeth Council Annual Meeting [PDF] taking place on 4 June:
"We encourage people to use Social Media and we normally tweet from most Council meetings. To get involved you can tweet us @LBLDemocracy."
Tweeting yer arse off is something @Darryl1974 and I touched upon during the first Metroknobbers recording. Except we were talking about tweeting our arses off, and not the arses of the Council Officers.
We really thought that the modern interweb meets #localgov argument was over and had been won. Sadly the transparency of Lambeth isn't matched with some of the ahem medieval practices that I have experienced at the Parish and Town tiers of #localgov.
Requests to record public meetings have been brushed aside as "not being in our Standing Order."
The cost of servicing an FoI (£15 per hour) have been included in the minutes of a meeting at the request of a stuffy old Mayor.
And then "concern" from an equally stuffy Cllr over a "member of the public tweeting in a meeting" was made in a local dead tree media publication.
And so "We encourage people to use Social Media" isn't quite the mantra down in the lower leagues of #localgov.
But we're getting there, Comrades; we're getting there...
The sign of any half-decent artist is being able to define their music against their age. Bowie is probably the best example. It's a mighty long way down rock 'n' roll from Major Tom to The Next Day; Dylan does it rather well (although quantity over quality gets in the way.)
And then there's the Boy Bragg.
What I absolutely love about yer man Bill is that each album defines the artist there and then.
Forward ever, backwards never, Comrades.
Life's a Riot is the revolutionary album.
Brewing Up mellows the young man.
Talking with the Taxman looks away from a New England and towards the States.
Worker's Playtime realises that you can't change politics until you have changed the personal.
The Internationale does as it said, as well as being a little WEIRD.
Don't Try This at Home is bloated, but captures a man not sure which direction he is heading. It still contains some beautiful songs.
William Bloke is the post-sabbatical baby and me album.
It all then goes a little Americana with the Woody stuff, before landing back in Blighty and sticking it to the BNP with English, Half English.
Billy Bragg seems comfortable at every stage in his career, growing old gracefully, yet still having something to say. It's hard to think of many other artists that feel so at ease along their own timeline.
I tend to dip in and our of the Boy Bragg with no such similar linear progression. Some days I'm all grown up with William Blokes; other days I'm taking to the frontline and living out Life's a Riot.
A framed picture of all Bragg albums up to the Greatest Hits greets me each morning in my living room. I'm playing Bragg bingo when deciding upon how I feel that particular morning.
I should really head back to my drum 'n' bass days.
And so where to start with the CRUSHING victory by the Comrades of Lambeth Labour in the local elections this week? Probably by congratulating the Nu Labour lot on their spectacular win.
A whopping 59 Labour seats against an 'opposition' of three Tories annexed over in Clap'ham, and one lone Green out in Streatham Wells.
Farewell Lambeth LibDems. Absolutely wiped out and with no great surprise, given their pathetic attempt at mounting an election campaign.
You may not like what democracy has to say, but you have to accept it. Controlling a council with 94% of Cllr's is pretty convincing.
Of course this doesn't mean that 94% of Lambeth residents back the Nu Labour project...
Accountability is the next issue to overcome. There is now effectively no opposition party in Lambeth. Scrutiny and the increasingly party political voting in Planning is going to be interesting to observe.
And so who now holds the Cllr's to account?
The role of residents is now to work with the council and try and influence change from the outside. Some may call it... co-operation.
The alternative is to dismiss the party political system for the farce that it is. But then that just leads to even less accountability and a blind mandate for the careerists to crack on with The Project.
There's an awful lot of new Cllr's with little experience. I wish them well. Here's hoping that the old guard don't continue to dominate.
lollambethlibdems is a great hashtag btw.
What an ACE idea - using the modern interweb to crowd source [URGH] scenery change and document a landscape as it attempts to recover from a fire.
The back story is that a wildfire broke out last September at Mount Diablo State Park in California. The local landscape would forever be changed.
The modern interweb allows us to document and share this change. A simple bracket has been placed overlooking the scene. Here's where you place your phone, take a shot and then tag it with the #morganfire02 hashtag to help create a crowd sourced understanding of the area over time.
I'm not one for countryside views to be honest. I'd rather observe psychogeograpic [GEDDIN] change within the city.
Which is why I think that a similar snapshot model would work well around these parts and the whole Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea development area.
I was walking over Westminster Bridge on Sunday afternoon and made a mental note to try and return and capture the view out west as often as possible.
Cranes are appearing upon cranes. St George's Tower, the current shining beacon of #SW8, will soon be dwarfed itself. My patch of Transpontonia will soon (very soon) change forever.
I attempted to capture something of what was left last spring. I was slightly too late in being able to document digitally a corner of South London that I have run around for the past two decades.
Plus the scale of change is far too great for one person to try and cover conclusively.
My local resident's association is attempting to source images shot by local people of the Vauxhall transformation. But it's proving a little clunky in shooting, sending on and then collating all of these photographs.
How about a simple recreation of the #morganfire02 project?
Place a smartphone bracket - ideally on Vauxhall Bridge, and then let the passing Transpontine folk capture the change every day.
There may be issues over data ownership. I'm getting increasingly annoyed by shiny nu media models that are overly keen to swallow up your content, yet not so equally understanding when it comes to you asking for it to be regurgitated out once again.
The recent roll out of the time machine option within Google Maps shows that there is an appetite for viewing this changing face of the city.
Anyone handy at building a durable smart phone bracket that we could somehow place along Vauxhall Bridge?
Networks are becoming increasingly important.
No shit, Sherlock etc.
I now go about my daily online / offline business with no consideration for which domain I'm stepping into. I've reached the defalt setting of being a self-facilitating media node.
What use to be a distinction now shows no divide. I expect an online connection at all times, and a half-decent one a that.
I had a bit of a wobbler of a weekend. The cheapo talktalk deal in the flat was feeling a little under the weather in the South London heat.
The speed dropped to what the iPayer deems necessary to deliver.
No worries. I didn't really want to watch the Eastenders omnibus at midnight anyway.
But it did make uploading half a dozen flickr images something of an issue.
I've got a self-imposed rule not to atempt anything online unless you have the sufficient network. Accessing an email on a train can take a couple of minutes as you pick up and then drop the signal.
Back at base and you can connect and act instantly.
Unless you're in the talktalk enabled flat that is.
4G has been helping. I clocked 30MB in central London lat week.
Just watch that 1GB giffgaff allowance get swallowed up within the first couple of weeks of the month long trial.
And so yeah - networks are becoming increasingly important.
But do I really need to be online wherever my offline footprint takes me? I certainly expect to be.
The self-facilitating media node piss take of a response might have stood up in the day.
Buy yeah - it really is all about the network in order to achieve things both online and offline.
Four years on since I stopped blogging about hyperlocal politics back in Lambeth and I still receive weekly tip offs. These attempts at selling me stories have increased to almost daily over the past few weeks. All council seats are up for grabs next Thursday.
I personally find it vaguely interesting. It is such an incestuous political patch. Tales that Cllr X has missed four consecutive meetings of Board Y that he / she is obliged to attend make me ponder, but y'know... life.
Life in that I've got better things to do than become caught up in a hyperlocal political trap, unwillingly playing games as the messenger for both sides as the political careerists continually squabble.
Plus to be fair, life in that Cllr X has probably got the everyday demands of his / her own life to manage. It's not as if he / she is raking it in by playing the hyperlocal political game (I don't think...)
I often miss meetings that aren't work related, Comrades.
And so a new roster of Lambeth greasy pole climbers will soon be elected. The hardcore of the Old Guard (CAPPED up) more or less remain as options on the ballot paper for next Thursday.
But there seems to be a ready made stream of political twonks queuing up to give the game a go.
I wish them well.
I seriously do.
It's an unloved, (almost) unpaid role with little in return. Bashing out stories that are spoon fed from political opponents is the last thing that they need as they balance the WHOPPING cuts from central government.
Accountability, yes. Absolutely.
But tit for tat with poxy emails landing in my inbox everyday?
It's all about solutions, isn't it?
I really should bash out a blog post about how blogging with fargo has brought back my love of words on the modern interweb. But I'd end up wobbling over my self-imposed 250 (ish) word count for what I am trying to achieve over here.
I could always tweet it instead.
It's still very much early days for me and fargo. I'm finding though that I'm approaching the outliner with the same mindset that attracted me to Blogger over ten years ago.
You have a blank box (well, an outline...); you bash out a few simple words. You then move on.
Don't blog about blogging etc, but the approach over here is very different from over there.
I craft out (ha!) those big world blog posts. Images, embeds, linkage etc. It all takes up time. Sometimes I just want to see a space in front of me and offload some words.
It's a far cry from the wild west blogging from back in the day. But there is a definite sense that something a little different is being tried here. The platform is very much stripped down if that's what you want. As Glass has demonstrated, you can equally scale right up to the top end if you have the tech skills and patience.
I've no idea where all of this is going. It was pretty much how I felt when I first pressed the old Blogger publish button over a decade ago.
I've overshot the word count.
Stepping outside from an online project - and I mean really stepping outside - and seeing it from a user's point of view is a great exercise in re-focussing.
Ah yes - the Wivenhoe Forum...
2.1 is officially stable, but we want to break down the code before flicking the switch.
Which has led to a little bit of a re-focus on the current live version of the forum. Ideas from 2.1 have been ported over to 2.0. You carry out these actions with the best of admin intentions, but... y'know.
It is the basic online issues that you take for granted that makes you realise the possible gap between admin and user experiences.
You can signpost as many pointers as you think necessary, but still the intuition of the users is to go against the original intention.
Who is at fault here?
The lessons we're learning during the 2.1 testing is to go for simplicity. Custom builds are not only going to cause you issues later down the timeline when new releases become available, but also you are second judging the user experience.
Perhaps a collaborative outliner is the solution?
Or maybe just an offline chat.
I despair sometimes of the walled garden mentality of the modern interweb. Another day, another organisation banging on about the 'safety' of operating within a walled garden (would link, but it's just bollocks.)
Wasn't this form of the Invisible Hand suppose to have been removed with the freedom of the modern interweb?
Along with the walled garden twaddle talk comes 'portals' and 'one-stop shops.' You just know that 'engagement' is going to follow in the next sentence.
The modern interweb is all about choice. If I'm reading your news story then I want to then go and seek out an alternative view. Staying within the confines of your walled garden restrictions is just one step away from censorship.
Who is writing this story? Are they being paid for the copy? If so, by whom? What is the agenda?
You won't find these answers if you aren't allowed to leave the prim and proper sterile world of your crappy portal.
Plus anyone that describes ANYTHING online as a 'one stop shop' probably owns five pairs of chinos and nothing else.
Give me choice.
If not then I will decide to look elsewhere for my impartial information.
This is refreshing - BIG media not only acknowledging the source of a story, but also adding a link.
Ignoring the meat on the bone (if indeed it is ever possible to overlook crude sexism) and it shows willing from The Graun to move towards the modern interweb ethos of share and share alike.
Linkage is still the backbone propping up all of this brave new world frontier. Without offering your audience an alternative then you may as well go back to a secular form of blinkered old school publishing.
I've argued passionately to pals for many years now about the social currency of online links. Sure, we're never going to get payment from BIG media when they lift our stories, but a link back to a hyperlocal at least shows some willing.
For The Graun to share the source of their re-hashed story is encouraging.
The modern interweb was sold to me back in the dotcom days as a platform that would level out publishing.
This was twaddle of course.
BIG media colonised every last outpost of those pre-2.0 gold rush days. Even blogs - the last bastion of bedroom publishing - got gobbled up and re-packaged by BIG media crap.
Comment is Free, etc...
But tap, tap, tapping away and getting those links into BIG media stories could be the start of re-addressing the balance.
We've come a long way from the Internet = EVIL way of thinking in schools. I remember a decade ago when there was a blanket ban in School A on anything online that didn't start with the domain bbc.co.uk.
School B that I work in now runs a highly successful ICT Club each lunchtime. Pupils have to be turned away, such is the demand.
School C has a more informal set up, allowing the Year 11 students a free run in the ICT suite, rather than kick their heels in the playground.
I often sit in on these sessions, tap, tap, tapping away at my own work. The conversation is illuminating. When allowed a free choice of online access the students will not surprisingly find content that suits their own needs.
Family Guy clips are a favourite. But then others research football teams, or even Boy Y and his own personal fascination in wildlife.
Put simply, leave pupils alone to look at the modern interweb and they will use the tool in the same way that my pre-modern interweb generation used Encyclopedias.
Safety checks are in place across all three school. NSFW content is obviously NSF Schools and has a nuclear ban.
What is frustrating however is the level of trust within different schools. Whilst youtube clips of Family Guy are available in the secondary school environment of School C, School A still takes a very much walled garden approach to learning.
You'd be surprised as to what content is still blocked - Vimeo videos from the school website.
Online safety is a common thread across all three schools. I'm personally in favour of opening this up further and placing as much emphasis on online safety as on other areas of the curriculum. The chastity belt of the modern interweb can always be broken if you have the right tools.
Coding starts in September across the National Curriculum. It is impossible to teach the opportunities that working with raw data presents without addressing the consequences.
It's a back to basics approach - quite literally - in terms of tech teaching. My own access back in the day was all about BASIC coding on the BBC machines.
This somehow became an obsession to learning how to use software, rather than build and create. I've sat through endless ICT lessons, scratching me head as Excel cells are prodded and poked with little value.
And now we're back at coding and how to build apps. Much like online safety, these are online life skills that need to be taught.
I could make an online video and document the process, if only I could get beyond that bloody Vimeo firewall.
Elections aren't won online. If only it were that simple (#labourselfies should be BANNED btw in the run up to any #localgov election...)
The site is still very much in alpha, but it all appears to run smooth from where I'm sitting. The premise is take the election away from the crappy leaflets that are poorly published, poorly printed and poorly read.
The advantage of such a site is that it gives an equal platform for all politicos involved to have a say. Put forward your pledges, and then allow the voters to view what you are standing for.
As with most things involving the modern interweb, myward.me relies upon a lot of love; not just from @gazaston and other developers, but from the politicos to provide the content. It shouldn't take too long though to bash out 250 words on why you are so brilliant. Or not.
The alpha site currently serves the Borough of Colchester. The WEIRD Election by Thirds system is in place, which explains why not all of the wards have been populated with content.
This has been doing the rounds today - Buzzfeed's inevitable list of LibDem data misgivings. No one still takes these seriously, do they?
It's the classic LibDem trick of painting a two horse race to try and trick the voter into thinking that any third choice is a wasted vote.
The strangulation of the political party system has got a lot to answer for. I like to think that the electorate has more intelligence than the party twonks give them credit.
There was the Herne Hill Horror from back in 2010, when the Green party was completely erased from political history.
And then there was yer man Chuka, still a ...progressive innocent Parliamentary candidate, putting it about that it was a two horse race up in Streatham. The LibDems can't win here, etc.
Of which they didn't of course.
Treating the electorate with such contempt only leads to the electorate treating ballots papers with equal contempt.
This hasn't happened to me for the best part of two decades - I'm actually feared with dread thinking about what happens now that the football season has finished. #ForFutureFootball and Dulwich Hamlet have got a lot to answer for. I even went to watch Wivenhoe Town last weekend...
The past nine months or so down at the Dulwich have been pretty special. I initially resisted the lure to return following my five year sabbatical. Memories of BAD football, BAD facilities and the atmosphere of a morgue remained.
But then something happened down in SE22.
"What if even a fraction of London’s disenchanted or disempowered football fans went en masse to a club like Dulwich Hamlet? 250 could double an average attendance. We could transform a club. We could make an ignored non-league match THE ritual to be at in this stinking choiceforesaken city."
Job's a good un?
The pink 'n' blue army swelled to over 1,000 for the final home game of the season against Kingstonian. We failed to make the play-offs by a single point, but we had already won the moral victory.
Notice how I say we.
Like I say - this hasn't happened to me for the best part of two decades.
What I have absolutely loved down at the Dulwich this season has been the coming together of the tribes. My entire Transpontine life over the past two decades has met up and celebrated the #ForFutureFootball cause. Old school Rabble folk, political Comrades, lido folk, school kids from the day job.
And so where to next for the Dulwich?
Despite the revolutionary resurgence, this is still very much a time for transition. The team is reliant upon Manager Gavin Rose and his future plans. Off the pitch and new owners Hadley are (so far) saying all the right things.
You can't undergo such a massive period of #ForFutureFootball growth and not lose something of the anarchic spirit that makes this South London club so special. Regualr attendances of 1,000 plus next season will possibly dilute the experience; they may even just liven it up further.
And so a summer of Surrey Cricket watching awaits.
Pre-season project: mobilise the Peter May pissheads?
It's taken me over a year to get back into a running routine after being told I have an arthritic knee. I'm amazed that I'm pounding the pavements at all to be honest.
The intensity of the pain when the arthritis first kicked in was often tearful.
"Get back on the road"
...was the not very helpful advice from my physiotherapist.
I stuck with the daily stretching routine, but decided to retire from running. The tedium of stretching miraculously led to the pain disappearing.
Time to buy a new pair of running shoes.
I've been an obsessive runner for almost a quarter of a century now. That's probably what led to my knackered knee.
It's an addiction that is both physical and spiritual.
NEVER TRUST A HIPPIE, etc.
And so I'm taking the first few steps back into going on the run once again. The weekly @bwparkrun around the beauty of Brockwell Park has been a great re-introduction.
I love the collective unity in 250 runners pacing one another around the contours of Brockwell every Saturday morning. I've stumbled upon a new running partner, Natalie, who paces me to perfection.
Or is it the other way around?
We peaked with our PB's a couple of weeks back. To trail in two seconds past our PB's the following week was a relief. We've hit peak running. It's all downhill from here.
The King of Clap'ham Run from back in the day has also returned. I've even got ambitious plans for a Transpontine Trek taking in both Brockwell and the means streets of SW4.
I'm happy just to be able to plod along once again. I felt particularly strong during the run this morning. The arthritic tears have led me to appreciate the fragility of an ageing frame.
Sky diving can wait.
A good day in the office, a bad day in the office;
Except the May Day Bank Holiday should never really be about work.
Having worked on Worker's Day proper, Bank Holiday Monday was a day for rest and play. A good day in the saddle, a good day with the walking shoes and a bloody good day in the boozer.
A bad day in the office for Surrey Cricket.
A half-arsed trip out to deepest Canterbury was discussed the night before. I think that the saddle, walking shoes and boozer combination ended up the winner.
This was the third day of our mini Tour de Worker's Day Machine and Marxism roll out - or whatever we decide to call it depending on the mood we're in when we wake up.
It was a glorious early morning ride and a bloody good test for the Garmin. I fixed the mount (that refuses to live up to its name...) with the tried and tested method of adding some blu-tack to the ball that connects to the socket.
The Garmin arrow of destiny guided us around the badlands of Essex with ease. Early morning traffic was non-existent; I picked up a limp wrist simply from politely waving to the many other Marxism Monday riders taking to the roads.
Back at base and the aborted window cleaning session from Sunday was the sum of my working effort on Worker's Day.
Brightlingsea and BOOZE was waiting as the reward.
Another case of estuary wilds time and tide, Comrades.
The walk out along the Colne changes each week and is just waiting to be photographed. But we had our BOOZE heads on, not to mention a bloody awful two hourly bus service back to base.
It was heads down, no snappy snappy action and last man standing in Brightlingsea gets the BOOZE in.
The Railway remains my fave boozer around these parts. £2.80 for a pint of jet black stout, and a packet of pork scratchings for the lady.
Stick or twist?
A bus at 4:20, or a bus at 6:20?
Gardening chores or more BOOZE?
The boring arse within won the day. It wasn't all that bad. The late afternoon rays are just starting to creep up over the raspberry bushes, giving you an extra golden hour for gardening / collapsing in the hammock.
Shame about the bad day in the office for Surrey Cricket.
Good day, bad day?
GOLDEN Days, Comrades.
Back to work tomorrow.
I use to work for Network News back in a different life. Oh the irony of being a jobbing journo for a print publication all about the network that has left no online footprint.
The modern interweb at the time was just starting to grow. Editorial copy hinted at what was soon to come, yet very few of us took online seriously, such was the slowness of dial up at the time.
Network News pumped out the print, until one day the modern interweb killed the publication.
I remember bashing out copy at the time about how the big beasts of IT were busy connecting big business. The agenda was never one of personal self-advancement.
And now some sixteen years later and it still all comes back to being about the network for me.
I hesitate to sound like some self-facilitating media node arse, but without the modern interweb and you're buggered.
A recent cycling trip to the Norfolk wilds left me cut loose and fancy free. I admit that I rather enjoyed the splendid isolation for about one afternoon, but soon I felt that I needed to be online to upload images to flickr, sync Strava rides, catch up on the cricket etc.
Where will this quest for connectivity and speed end?
I was expecting to be 4G enabled via giffgaff this weekend. Instead I'm finding that I live (sort of) in a 4G not so hotspot.
3G is no way to go when you want to share hit and miss images whilst stuck out cycling around the Essex badlands.
Back at base and talk of late has been about connecting an elderly relative to the modern interweb for the first time. We (and more importantly she) have resisted so far.
For what use and for what purpose would the modern interweb be for her?
A tablet may offer a physical, practical solution, but the switch from LW radio to FM is still proving problematic.
What would life have been like without the modern interweb? As ever, it is the wisdom of the elderly relative who can offer us answers.
Still grinning btw about a print publication all about the network that couldn't leave an online legacy...
I've nothing but absolute admiration for the striking staff of The Ritzy cinema in Brixton. Having closed down the Picturehouses owned business for two days over the Easter Bank Holiday, the staff have now completed a successful third day of industrial action on Worker's Day.
Fighting for a London Living Wage is at the centre of this dispute. We're not talking Hard Left (ha!) militancy here either. That's well known Comrade, um, Boris Johnson believes that a London Living Wage is a right for every worker in the city.
The personal sacrifice of The Ritzy workers against the penny-pinching Picturehouses group is impressive. Plus the ability to build a campaign and take the message out into a very sympathetic community is also to be admired.
From Brixton Blog:
“When we arrived at Clapham we filled Venn Street and altered the words of our chants to be about Clapham staff. Virtually all the Clapham staff working walked out, joined us and put on our t-shirts."
This takes the campaign to the next level. The Ritzy isn't alone in exploiting staff. Highlighting the failure of Picturehouses to respect the work carried out by its staff across the network of cinemas can only help the cause.
Other connections have been made in Brixton by the Ritzy Workers. Mutual support has grown for the striking workers up Brixton Hill at Lambeth College. Victories are built on such unity.
Sacrificing a day's pay when you are paid peanuts anyway is not an easy decision to make. The striking Ritzy staff are winning over the minds of many.
They have already... won the moral victory, Comrades.
Here's Will Self on the hypocrisy of the Picturehouses group.
I'm having some soulful moments of nostalgia rediscovering these - the entire Streetsounds back catalogue.
What a label! Streetsounds had everything - the identity, the mission and the cool as fuck tunes. Perhaps the only thing missing was the commercial clout.
Back in the day (which isn't typed out as an ironic street statement) and Streetsounds was for the cool kids in the school playground. This was the era of tribalism in music. Street culture was all the better for it.
I was caught between Britfunk and Billy Bragg. Between Marx and Marzipan in the dictionary, there was Mary, etc.
I remember the first appearance of the Streetsounds series back in Selectadisc in the Fair City, my own musical educational establishment. The covers grabbed me first, then the funk.
The intensity of the label was amazing. Albums were rush released almost each month. As soon as the imports came over from the States, Streetsounds were on it.
I got a little side-tracked around Streetsounds 4 when the Electro series first emerged. You could sense a growing move towards hip hop for the label. The pure soul however was too strong to ditch.
The Electro series became truly massive for oooh, about six months sometime towards the back end of 1984. Streetsounds as a label over-stretched and then imploded.
But what a legacy to leave.
Who knew that there was a jazz imprint?
And now the modern interweb is serving up Streetsounds all over again for me. The original series remains strong in defining my own musical identity.
Does this tribalism still exist in modern music?
Endless Graun articles go in search of Grime is the new Grunge etc. I've long since given up on trying to follow it all. Streetsounds makes me smile, and that is good enough.
A cutting quote on the Co-op Council from Lambeth Council Leader Lib Peck, p.12 of the PDF of the ACE Brixton Bugle [it's a little fiddly - PDF, not the Co-op Council...]
"You start off with a political vision which is about working with the local community, and sometimes that translates into something that's not as dynamic as you hoped."
Chicken or the egg?
Starting off with the political vision is wrong. Especially when it is an overtly Political decision with a capital P.
You work with the local community, and then see what policies come out of this.
Bottom up #localgov policy... localism (without a capital L.)
All seems to have gone quiet on the flagship Co-operative Council in Lambeth. Purdah may be playing a part, but it's quite a political step backwards given the past four years of taking the model out on the #localgov roadshow circuit and trying to flog the idea.
No official word has yet come out of Lambeth Town Hall. I know of a couple of #hyperlocals who are digging around, trying to get confirmation on the story.
It may just be that calling yourself a Co-operative model in May 2014 is not as... progressive as it first sounded some four years ago. The Co-op has become a by-word for bashing bankers. You don't want to head to the polls with that hanging over your head.
Or it could be that the Co-operative values still exist within the Council, it's just that a slight re-branding is taking place. The #lovelambeth hashtag seems to have been pumped out over recent weeks with the same passion that was once reserved for #lambethcoop
And so what is the main evidence linking the demise of the Lambeth Co-op Council?
Take a look at the Lambeth Labour manifesto [PDF] and you'll find only one passing reference to the Co-op Council, and even then it is the Youth Co-operative.
The Lambeth Council website paints a similar picture. All mentions of the Co-op Council have been wiped out - strange, given that being a Co-operative was almost a buzzword in which to package up all of the partnerships within the borough.
And then on the personal level there is the departure from the Council of Sophia Looney, an apolitical officer who served so well in implementing the Co-op policy.
I wish her well... (audio from back in the day.)
The Co-op Council was softly, softy introduced just weeks before the 2010 local elections, with talk of a White Paper to outline the principles. This was then conveniently put on hold ahead of polling. Purdah was given as the reason.
As soon as the election was out of the way, work then went ahead to set up the Co-op Council. The Citizen’s Commission was formed, strangely containing no citizens, but the three highest ranking members of the Lambeth Cabinet.
Criticism of this led to a Who’s Who of ‘progressive’ Third Sector social types being shipped into the borough to fill the seats around the Citizen’s Commission table.
Four years then followed of plenty of policies and presentations, but little real ‘progression’ on the ground. The Co-op Council in Lambeth became a flag ship model on the national agenda. The idea seemed worthy in principle. The practicalities less so.
I personally rather liked the model. I totally understood the removal of the top down approach to working with residents. Where it all became a little confused however was when the politics took over.
The Co-op became a backdoor for council cuts - once again, it was those above in the political food chain that was forcing this on the local authority. To respond with a Co-op model was a little less than transparent.
The Council continually eulogised over the merits of operating under a Co-operative, with residents actually seeing little difference compared to a more traditional form of local government. The Co-operative principles weren’t always present - witness the violent and forceful break ups of the genuine housing co-ops that had been formed in the borough over thirty years ago.
And so now it seems the Lambeth Co-op is dead, just as the electors are about to go to the polls once again.
What were the last four years all about?
Keep your eye on the prize at all times, Comrade...
And what of the financial cost? Or even the future? Is Lambeth Council now un-cooperative?
It will be interesting to see if the model is publicly brought back after the local elections and the petri dish experiment continues to search for solutions.
For reference: dated, but half right, half wrong in The Graun.