As the Lib Dems continue to spend money the flood the letterboxes of Kingston and Surbiton residents, Labour's local Parliamentary Candidate Laurie South, points out they did very little in their 12 years as the administration in Kingston from 2002 – 2014.
- In one of their many leaflets sent out to Kingston and Surbiton residents, the Liberal Democrats say that vital funding for schools is at risk because of Tory incompetence but when in power on Kingston Council there were so incompetent at running children’s services that they were failed more than once by Ofsted.
- In fact children’s services was taken from the Council and an out-sourced company called Achieving for Children was set up to run these services. Children’s services are no longer under the democratic control of Kingston Council, thanks to Liberal Democrat incompetence.
- The Liberal Democrats claim they built two primary schools. Actually these were financed by the Labour government (1997-2010) that undertook a massive school build which benefited many of Kingston’s schools.
- Also, the leaflets do not tell us that the North Kingston parents had to petition the Liberal Democrat administration to build a secondary school. The Liberal Democrats procrastinated and were so tardy that the new school was started under the coalition government. It then had to be a free school taking over the vibrant adult education buildings.
- The Liberal Democrats were a part of the coalition government that centralised education, taking it away from local control, and imposed swingeing cuts on schools. So now they tell us they will fight the cuts that they helped the Tories make. How are they going to fight it? Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, money for schools has been either centralised or is with their own undemocratic construct – Achieving for Children. They have no levers or focus on education.
- The Liberal Democrats claim that the number of police have been cut so crime has risen – presumably in Kingston but they do not say so. Again, it was the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government (and Liberal Democrat MP Edward Davey was a cabinet member) that colluded with the Tories to give us years of pointless austerity. That is when the police cuts came into force. The Liberal Democrats are railing against their own actions.
- The Liberal Democrats have every right to fight shy of their record of building affordable homes and try to blame the Tories. Their record from 12 years of running Kingston is appalling. And then, under the Tory administration, they opposed every development even when these included affordable housing. They voted to oppose the Labour London Mayor’s Plan for London which proposed some 650-700 affordable homes per year in Kingston. They will not say what they intend to do with the Cambridge Road Estate: will they take over the Tory plan? Will they give residents a ballot? How many affordable homes do they plan?
- The Liberal Democrats claim they secured £65 million to refurbish Kingston’s council houses. Actually, they had to be kicked into action by Boris Johnson, of all people, who was then Mayor of London, because the Labour government put up money to complete council house refurbishment across the country by 2010. The Liberal Democrats did not even have any plans until 2012-13, and then they bottled the opportunity to “green Kingston’s council houses”: there was no solar power established and no heat transference systems.
- The Liberal Democrats claim that over their 12 years they invested millions in road maintenance and pot-hole repair. No bicycle lanes across the borough, no investment in public transport, no radical re-think of a crowded and highly air-polluting transport system, just a filling of holes which a year later were exactly as they were before. What a waste of 12 years.
Let us not pretend that the Tories have been excellent. They have rushed forward with scheme after scheme. They have failed to work with the residents of Kingston, expected us to stand in awe of their grandiose schemes, and their consultation has been shambolic. But the Liberal Democrat leaflets do not tell us what the Liberal Democrat vision for Kingston is. We do not believe they have one. They gave us 12 years of incompetence, procrastination and excuses before, and their proudest achievement appears to be that they temporarily filled a few potholes.
Cartoon by Steve Bell from The Guardian.