The reckless spending of council money is one of the central reasons why the Conservatives relinquished control over Wandsworth Council, Labour councillor Maurice McLeod claimed.
The Conservatives had run the council since 1978, but that streak ended early this morning as Labour dominated the polls, reaching a total of 35 elected Councillors.
Council tax in Wandsworth is the second lowest in London and it was thought by Ravi Govindia, the outgoing Wandsworth Conservative Council leader, that this would be sufficient to edge Labour.
This was not to be, and McLeod argued this is because low council tax has little sway if the money doesn’t go in the right places.
“The win means a lot to the Labour party but it’s more about what it means to Wandsworth,” he said.
“I’ve lived here my whole life. I was four the last time we had a Labour council leader.
“In that time things have been cut, shrunk down and reduced but we can reverse that now.”
In their manifesto, Labour promised to use public money to provide more affordable housing, give financial security to those most at risk throughout the cost-of-living crisis and tackle the climate emergency head on.
“We will be serious about the climate and building council homes,” McLeod said.
“That’s what matters. We’re here to serve the people.”
The MP for Wandsworth, Labour’s Fleur Anderson, added: “The Conservatives are leaving London behind by defunding almost everything.
“The housing crisis and the environment are not being dealt with. There’s been a real shift in the public consensus.”
Labour promised not to raise council tax to pay for these changes, in order to protect those who are struggling the most.
“I’m all for taxing but I don’t think we should be taxing people on the bottom rung and that’s what council tax does which is why Labour promises to keep it low,” McLeod said.
“We need to prioritise spending in a different way. We’re all entering this cost-of-living issue and I would feel uncomfortable putting those most at risk under more pressure.”
By matching the Conservatives’ promise of low council tax, Labour earnt more voting recognition which ensured that Wandsworth now has an MP and Council leader from the same party.
Isabel Losada, a representative for the Green Party, fully supported this changing of the guard.
“I’m delighted to see a Labour council,” she said. “The Conservatives were not spending money in the right way, especially knowing the level of inequality that still exists in the borough.”
The question of council tax was a focal point in this corner of the local election and it falls now on Labour to use it in a way they see fit.