The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Tim Briggs, gave the following statement to Council:
“I have mixed views about this New Town Hall. It’s sad to hear Councillor Peck talking about this renovated building without any mention of what it cost.
This renovated Town Hall is actually a metaphor for everything wrong with this Labour administration.
It has a historic Edwardian outside, which is a façade of trustworthiness, civic values, and financial prudence. The inside has been hollowed out.
Back in 2015 no councillors opposed the plans – we were told it would cost £50 million and save £2.5 million a year, so paying for itself after 20 years. At Planning Committee Councillor Gentry expressed concerns about the council’s ability to manage the project within its budget.
So assuming that Labour colleagues were incompetent in 2015 rather than lying to us - the cost of renovation then rose to £104 million. The estimate now is £160 million. Could be more, no-one knows, there is no transparency.
Is this really £160 million of renovation? And paid back after 64 years? When today’s toddlers are picking up their pensions?
Councillor McGlone, if you were on the board of a company and a project you said would cost £50 million ended up costing £160 million, you would be sacked immediately.
Is this a good deal for residents? No. It’s the vanity of Labour councillors trumping common sense. There is no longer any sensible business case for this renovation.
What penalties for the Labour councillors that got it wrong? Nothing.
What penalties for council officers that messed up? Nothing.
What incentives to get this kind of thing right in the future? None.
Who has to pay the money back? Residents, of course.
Locally, just like nationally, Labour cannot stop racking up debt. £150 million borrowed for the Shirley Oaks survivors, £300 million and more for Homes for Lambeth, plus this Town hall - that’s £610 million. Only in Labour-Lambeth is over half a billion of borrowing pushed under the carpet, so everyone can pretend later its somehow the Government’s fault when Labour councillors run out of money.
Yet we know that Conservative-run Wandsworth is the 4th best place for disadvantaged children to grow up - the facts speak for themselves.
And next month we will set out plans in our alternative budget to deal with the financial mess left by these Labour councillors - and a manifesto of hope for residents who have had tenancies taken away, homes and libraries destroyed or decrepit, their green spaces trashed, living on filthy streets - the communities and residents ignored by Labour.
Because Labour councillors can’t stop leaseholders getting ripped off by the same kinds of contractors that built this Town Hall, then charged residents 320% more.
The cost of this Town Hall is absolutely conclusive, unequivocal evidence that Lambeth Council under Labour has no control over spending resident’s money.”
NB - The factual accuracy of this statement was subsequently contested by the Deputy Leader of the Council (Investment and Partnerships). The Leader of the Opposition, on advice of council officers, has since accepted that the stated figure of ‘£160m’ was factually incorrect and that the total investment for the wider project amounted to £104m.