By Kaye Wiggins at Lambeth Town Hall
Councillors last night approved a plan to spend a reported £30m on new office buildings in Brixton, denying accusations that the scheme was a “vanity project”.
Under the plan, a new “campus” of council offices will be built around the town hall in central Brixton. The town hall itself, which is a listed building, will be modernised.
Lambeth Liberal Democrat leader Ashley Lumsden said the plans were a waste of public money and other options should be considered. Fellow Liberal Democrat councillor Daphne Marchant said: “What sort of image is this going to create?”
However, Cllr Jackie Meldrum (Lab), deputy leader of the council, said: “These are not vanity projects but sensible responses to a challenging financial context…Modern offices are not a political
issue, but a financial one.”
Cllr Meldrum also said the plans would save about £4.5m per year in running costs. “The council has downsized by 30% and consolidating our offices makes sense,” she said. Cllr Meldrum said Liberal Democrat claims that the scheme was being funded by “effectively mortgaging the
town hall” were “nonsense.”
A Liberal Democrat motion at the council meeting said the plans would cost between £25m and £30m. Labour councillors removed this figure from the motion but did not replace it with an alternative estimate of the scheme’s cost.