London Councils, the organisation that represents the capital’s 32 borough councils and the City of London Corporation, has elected Southwark’s Labour leader Peter John as its new chair for the next four years.
John, who was previously the cross-party body’s deputy chair and its executive member for business, skills and learning, has led Southwark since May 2010 and joined the London Councils executive in 2012. He succeeds Claire Kober, the now former leader of Haringey, as chair.
London Councils plays an integral role in the capital’s local government system, lobbying and liaising with national government and the London Mayor, as well as producing its own research and policy proposals, running a number of pan-borough services, including the Freedom Pass and the Taxicard, and funding local groups concerned with employment, domestic violence and poverty.
John said that a key priority would be “ensuring that London’s services are sustainably funded”, stressing that “children’s services and adult social care are under incredible pressure in the capital.” He added that “investing in prevention at local level represents good value for all Londoners”.
In December, London Councils slammed as “wholly inadequate” the government’s local government financing plans, saying they would go nowhere near a funding gap for the 32 boroughs as a whole it calculates will reach £1.6bn by 2020. The body calculates that this will represent a 63% cut over a period in which the capital’s population will have grown by 13%.
Last month, a report by think tank Centre For London found that London’s local authorities are spending 19% less per residents than they were seven years ago, with planning, cultural and transport budgets suffering most as protecting those for adult and child social care have been prioritised.
The choice of Peter John as chair was made by an electorate comprising the 32 borough leaders and the chairman of the City of London Corporation policy and resources committee. They also elected 11 other executive members from among their ranks as follows, with their portfolios:
- Lib Peck (Lambeth, Labour): deputy chair and crime and public protection.
- Teresa O’Neill (Bexley, Conservative): vice chair.
- Ruth Dombey (Sutton, Lib Dem): vice chair.
- Catherine McGuinness (City Corporation): vice chair.
- Muhammad Butt (Brent, Labour): welfare, empowerment and inclusion.
- Clare Coghill (Waltham Forest, Labour): business engagement, Brexit and “good growth”.
- Julian Bell (Ealing, Labour): transport and environment.
- Darren Rodwell (Barking & Dagenham, Labour): housing and planning.
- Ray Puddifoot (Hillingdon, Conservative): health and care (including adult care services).
- Georgia Gould (Camden, Labour): skills and employment.
- Nickie Aitken (Westminster, Conservative): schools and children’s services.
The number of executive positions allocated to leaders from different parties reflects the number of London boroughs those parties control following May’s elections.