Jack Hopkins has been elected the new leader of Lambeth Council, following a vote by members of the majority Labour group last night. He succeeds Lib Peck, who stepped down to take a job combatting violent crime with Sadiq Khan in City Hall.
Hopkins, who was Peck’s deputy, finished ahead of three fellow cabinet members, Matthew Bennett, Jennifer Brathwaite and Claire Holland. He said he was “absolutely delighted” to be chosen after a “fantastic contest with wonderful colleagues”.
Under Peck, Hopkins, who represents Oval ward, had cabinet responsibility for jobs, skills and performance. Peck had led the borough since January 2013, succeeding Steve Reed after he became MP for Croydon North and taking Labour to consecutive huge victories in the borough elections of 2014 and 2018. The party currently holds 57 of the 63 council seats, with the Green Party group having five and the Conservatives one.
The success of the Greens in becoming Lambeth’s second largest group reflects opposition in some parts of the borough to the Peck administration’s housing and regeneration policies and to measures to reorganise council services, notably libraries, in response to budget pressures. It might also indicate the failure of the Corbynite wing of the party in the borough to make significant inroads into the ranks of Labour councillors.
In November, Peck warned that Lambeth and other boroughs were already seeing troubling signs of the impact of Brexit, with a fall in planning applications, in increase in local skills shortages and a reluctance by local business to investment commitments.