Haringey Council’s cabinet member for finance has stood down from his post, claiming that “imprudent” budgetary decisions have been taken “over my head” and that manifesto pledges have been “watered down or ignored”.
Patrick Berryman, a former hedge fund trader who represents Bounds Green ward, also said in his resignation letter to council leader Joseph Ejiofor that he was unhappy that two erstwhile cabinet colleagues had been “arbitrarily sacked” on New Year’s Eve, saying that this action did “not reflect the promises made when you were elected”.
Though expressing pride in some of the council’s endeavours, including extending council tax relief for poorer residents, Berryman claimed that “in recent months some key decisions have been made and come before us as a cabinet that have lacked proper process, consultation and threaten some of our key manifesto pledges”.
He added that, “I have been put in difficult situations when last minute finance decisions have been taken over my head without my, or seemingly anyone else’s, input that involves our budget, our capital plans and even how councillors are paid. I can no longer support decisions that I consider to be financially risky and imprudent”.
Although Berryman assures Ejiofor that his decision “does not reflect my personal regard for you”, his departure is unlikely to lessen speculation about possible moves within the Labour Group and Haringey’s wider membership to replace the current leader.
Ejiofor was elected leader by the Labour Group following his party’s victory in last May’s London borough elections, when its majority was reduced by seven – the highest number of losses incurred by Labour in the capital.
He succeeded Claire Kober, who resigned from the council following a successful campaign by local Momentum activists and non-Labour allies to deselect sitting councillors and enable the formation of a Labour administration more aligned with the views of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Haringey has since become known as the country’s first “Corbyn Council”.
In October, Ishmael Osamor, the son of Edmonton MP and then shadow cabinet member Kate Osamor, resigned as a councillor and from a “deputy cabinet” role after news emerged of his conviction on three charges of possessing drugs with intent to supply.
The cabinet members sacked on New Year’s Eve were Zena Brabazon and Peray Ahmet, both of whom were defeated by Ejiofor in the election for council leader. Ejiofor said the action was needed in order to build “a cabinet team able to work closely together to deliver out manifesto”. Both women have criticised the decision.
Last month, the Labour Group’s chief whip, Gideon Bull, wrote to all the group’s members expressing his “deep disappointment and concern about the level of both personal acrimony and discourtesy that I have seen displayed over the last nine months between colleagues”. Bull emphasised that only some councillors were guilty of this behaviour but insisted that “enough is enough”.
Responding to Berryman’s resignation, Ejiofor said in a statement: “I am saddened by the resignation of Pat Berryman, and would like to thank him for his work, commitment and dedication over the past ten months. However, I strongly disagree with the reasons behind his resignation and restate my absolute commitment to delivering our manifesto pledges and running a prudent and collegiate administration.”
Updated at 19:00 on 20 March 2019.