Mayor Bullock's four questions for Lewisham

BCer Mike has spotted a blog by Mayor Bullock, which articulates his vision for the role of Labour in local government. Bullock writes:

Last year, I asked four questions locally which dominate our discussions about future years: 

How will we provide care for the growing number of elderly residents? 
How will we provide the jobs for our young people? 
How will we build enough homes for our growing population? 
How will we halt and reverse Environmental damage locally? 

But these questions are not just relevant to Lewisham, or even confined to London. I believe that these are four fundamental questions that need to be addressed up and down the country.

So the question is, are these the right four fundamental questions (and by questions, he means priorities)?

It's very strange not to see education mentioned at all. It's not really in the Council's gift to provide jobs for the boroughs' young people (although it can use the planning system, among other things, to encourage business to invest locally) and it doesn't make sense for an inner London borough to consider the job market in isolation. Surely the best thing it can do is to give Lewisham's young people the best possible chance of finding a job, by offering them good quality education and training.

It's also a little surprising that crime and anti-social behaviour go unmentioned, given that many residents would list them as a top priority. But if we have to restrict ourselves to four questions, it would probably just miss our list too, on the basis that the Council's powers are limited in this area.

We'd also re-frame the housing point (to include public spaces) and the environmental point (to emphasise that it's not only the local environment we need to consider, but the borough's broader environmental impact, through waste management and energy efficiency).

So, our four would be:

How will we provide for a growing number of elderly residents?
How will we provide high-quality education for our young people?
How will we build enough homes and public spaces for our growing population?
How will we improve the quality of the local environment while minimising residents' environmental impact?

What about yours?


NAT said...

Perhaps he's asking questions he has answers to.

That's a bit worrying for education..going forward.

Fattyfattybumbum said...


1. Prioritize the care of the elderly over that of the young and fit by using money destined for social housing to provide better medical and social facilities for elderly residents. Too many younger residents expect the Council to pay for their lack of family planning and poor choices. The elderly on the other hand have no choice but to grow old.

2. The Council is not responsible for 'creating' employment for people surely. Instead they should have a decent Chamber of Commerce to encourage employers to locate in the borough and employ our young. Otherwise, the Council could teach the youth about commuting to where the work is as well as how to market themselves professionally and manage their expectations; i.e sorry but you cant be a professional rapper sonny. The Council should employ tough love by ensuring its not better financially for teenagers to simply have a baby, apply for a free flat and live off the state. This is the lifestyle choice of many unfortunately.

3. I think the question should be how can we stop our population from growing any more given our services can't cope with the numbers of people already here. London is just too packed to the point that basic things no longer work - M25 last Saturday anyone? Jubilee line Monday anyone? Heathrow border control yesterday anyone?

4. This one I'll leave for those with more green credentials to comment on, judging by the array of hemp sandals at the Brockley Market last weekend, that would be most of SE4 ;)

Tamsin said...

Care for the elderly by axing the post of Cabinet Member for Older People... (last week's Newshopper)

Anonymous said...

Bullocks doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.

Thanks to the Labor party, Tony Blair and his faithful Scottish guard dog for giving us the worst recession ever so far.

The only question worth asking is:

How can we change the Mayor of Lewisham and put someone less politically corrupt?

Anonymous said...

You know Tony Blair was Scottish as well, right?

NAT said...

Have you heard about that Goldman Sachs and subprime business. Did nobody tell you about the other countries going into recession without Scottish help?

Did you know this thread was to do with Lewisham?

Crofton Park Ranger said...

Please note I do not present any kind of useful critique or comment on the Mayor's policies, achievements or his opinions on the prevalent issues of the day...

I simply read his name as Major Bollocks which made me giggle.

Money under the mattress said...

NAT, was just about to say that but couldn't be arsed. Gordon shares the blame as an influential world figure in economics but to suggest that he defined the US approach and that George W and his free market libertarians looked to the 3rd (?) biggest economy in Europe as an example flaters him. It was a world wide bubble that burst spectacularly. We were at the centre but I doubt any other party (by that I mean the Torys) would have behaved much different, trust the markets, leave the property bubble alone. Osbourne wanted us to be more like Ireland (Doh!) and supported the bank bailouts. How we recover frm that is the question and actually I've not seen a radical difference in the proposals yet other than the speed of deficit reduction.

THNick said...

1. The elderly did have a choice to save for their retirement. However they didn't take it, instead they spent their money, voted for governments on the promise of lower taxes and then took early retirement on the back of the property bubble brought about by the same governments. And now they expect the young to work to provide them with a higher standard of living than their children will ever attain.

2. How much do you think those sort of "scroungers" cost the government all year? And how does this compare to the cost of the banks?

3. Society and in particular care for the elderly only works if you have enough young people coming through to fund it. And it's simply not true that there's "no more space", instead there's been not enough investment in infrastructure.

NAT said...

That's just why it's good that these debates proceed rationally. I had great sympathy with Fatty's elderly until TH Nicks post above got me thinking again.

Anonymous said...

"THNick said...

1. The elderly did have a choice to save for their retirement. However they didn't take it, instead they spent their money, voted for governments on the promise of lower taxes and then took early retirement on the back of the property bubble brought about by the same governments. And now they expect the young to work to provide them with a higher standard of living than their children will ever attain."

This is extremely offensive. I've just retired at 65. Me and the wife (63) saved £840 a month for the last 15 years, plus I saved £600 a month for the previous 10 years. Before that I saved various amounts including in one good year £20k a lump sum into my private pension. What ahs this given me? Well my pension pot lost about £100k over the last 5 years despite me continuing to save into it. My annuity is £11800 pa before tax.

How much are you saving thick nick?

Anonymous said...

You couldn't save that much shopping on Coulgate St!

Anonymous said...

One fatuous blog feeds off another.

NAT said...

17:48 There are professionals who can help with you with that kind of outlook.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Mayor Bullock should resign, it would be a massive contribution to Lewisham and Brockley. His regime is recognised as a flop and is being used as a reason against elected mayors in those cities which are holding referendums in May on whether to move to such a system.

His tenure has been one which has left him being improperly held to account, allowing him to run roughshod over Lewisham: selling off housing to PFI contracts, wrecking our schools, I could go on. What has he done to try to address his four questions in the years he has already had?

And I should come out as a lifelong Labour voter!

Anonymous said...

How will we encourage and equip local people to solve their own problems rather than relying on the Council to do everything for them?

Anonymous said...

so you want the council to intervene to help people not to need intervention? Who will do the equiping? how about a local body acountable to the local people who pay for it? Each little sub area (call it a ward) could elect a representative. Collectivley we could all pay an amount into a fund. The local representatives can influence how the money is spent for the local good. Each representative can state their philosophy. If we don't think they are doing a good job we can remove them.....oh

Or we can just say f**ck 'em. If you have issues, if you need a hand or if you find yourself born into a disadvantaged situation or loose a job through no fault of your own. if you're old....just tough.

Anonymous said...

Nick, was this from his budget speech last year? If so, it's possible that education wasn't singled out as most of the funding for that is ring-fenced, whereas the areas he has mentioned are ones that are often having to bear the brunt of cuts to local govt expenditure up and down the country. Also, given Lewisham has the highest level of youth unemployment in the country, I can see why that's a priority. Not normally one to leap to Labour's defence, but that's my theory.

Whealie said...

The emphasis on education is misplaced. We force kids to stay in education when it may well be better for them to be in jobs or apprenticeships. Having more opportunities as alternatives for formal education would be a good thing.

Why is it acceptable for middle class kids to have a "gap year" between A levels and university but not acceptable for a kid to have a year off from school aged 16 just travelling? Why do we force them to do to sixth forms when they don't want to and are not ready?

Brockley Nick said...

@Whealie - I agree with you about vocational training / apprenticeships, etc. But they are all forms of "education". Call it education and training if you like - I don't care, seems an unnecessary distinction to me though. Some school education is vocational, some work place training is academic.

THNick said...

Anon 17:35 - so you paid about £10k a year for last 25 years (plus a bit extra on top), and you're getting about £12k a year out for next 25 years (plus a spouse's pensions and inflation link?) Unfortunately pensions are very expensive and you did well to make your own provision for it. That your pension pot lost so much value in the last 5 years is an consequence of a defined contribution structure as a result of last 20+ years of government policy. And this is going to get worse as the small number of defined benefit plans disappear, leaving the lucky ones of your generation to benefit from something that my generation will never have.

I put away a bit less than that (around £6k), but I expect to do this for almost 50 years, until I am 70. I didn't benefit from cheap housing but at least I only had to pay a relatively small portion of the costs of my education.

Anonymous said...

Spouses pension is £2500 pa. again before tax. Whether either of us receive this for 25 years sounds unlikely. Inflation will eat away at it, and we'll die. Neither pensions are index linked, that would have made our income too low. I've been paying into various pensions since I was 25, so 40 years. Our last holiday was in 1992, all our efforts went into saving into the pensions. Stupid huh?

You need to increase your contribution. Annuity rates are under 5.5% and fall every time there's a bond issue or a quantative easing.
If they rise I'll be very surprised.

I don't see how I'm 'lucky' at all.
But hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it?

Anonymous said...

You didn't benefit from cheap housing perhaps, but if you have a mortgage you have benefited from unprecedented interest rates, caused by quantitative easing. Or robbing the frugal, who are of course over represented amongst the old. This demographic harping is so unpleasant, as a child of the 70's I was brought up without the sense of entitlement that today's young display, and which is the wellspring of much of this moaning about how wonderful it must be to be old. The poverty of imagination is sad.

Brockley Nick said...

"This demographic harping is so unpleasant," and "as a child of the 70's I was brought up without the sense of entitlement that today's young display,"

Agree with your first point, the second point is in direct contradiction of it though.

Anonymous said...

You got me there. But if I'm Anon, I will moan, I just can't help it.

Tamsin said...

@yesterday's anon at 18.48 - very interested in Lewisham's example of a directly elected mayor being cited as showing that the system does not work - any links to articles and research? I've long felt that it is expensive in the support services required, and rather disempowering for those councillors not on the inner cabinet - but those could be misconceptions, some empirical research would be nice.

On the demographic issue - there are examples for every argument. For every pensioner sitting pretty on an index-linked public pension and able to go on cruises round the Med. there is one who literally has to choose between heating a room to a level that prevents risk of hypothermia and having a basic meal.

Every generation has its good breaks and bad ones. I work with people who grew up in the war - extremely tough all round - but for the most part have good, index linked final salary pensions (others of that generation lost out every which way - savings rather than pension, eaten away by inflation and now earning negative interest), I had my university education (and a subsequent vocational course) paid for by a state grant but my pension is valueless and even my bus pass seems to be disappearing over the horizon, today's young have advantages we did not dream of - but will also face as yet unknown nightmares.

Anonymous said...

They can axe the elected mayor's office for a start. That should free up some funding.

Do we really need a Lewisham mayor as well as a London mayor? Can anyone point to a significant achievement by Bullock? I can see that it's improved local democracy one jot.

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