Sir Robin re-arranges the deck chairs

23 Feb


Indisputably number two

In an email sent to all councillors this afternoon Sir Robin Wales has set out his plan to revamp the political leadership of the council and re-structure the executive responsibilities.

Aside from the predictable self-justifying bluster, including the mayor naming himself Lead Member for Business and Growth, the biggest news is the appointment of Councillor Ken Clark as the statutory deputy mayor. Lester Hudson retains his deputy mayoral title, but this is largely meaningless. Ken Clark is unquestionably Sir Robin’s number two.

Dear Colleagues, 

Following my selection as the Labour Party’s candidate for Newham Mayor in 2018, I have reviewed our executive arrangements for the next few years. Our direction of travel has been clear for some time and my new arrangements will help support this. 

When deciding our objectives it must always be in the full knowledge that we face a crisis in our funding. The scale of the attack this Conservative government has made on local authorities, and Labour boroughs in particular, has been well documented. Our recognition in 2010 of the need to plan for a future which involved the complete elimination of government grant has been proven correct. 

Our Approach 

We recognise that government funding will not be re-instated. I am proud that throughout this difficult time, and unlike most other councils, we have managed to invest in the services our residents say matter most to them, protected our frontline services from cuts while continuing to freeze Council Tax. 

Supporting residents to develop resilience remains our strategic approach. None of us were elected to manage decline but rather to support all our residents to prosper and succeed. Our approach and decisions are driven by our shared Labour values of fairness, localism, reciprocity, solidarity and trust. 

With fifteen months to go to the local elections, we have delivered our shared Labour Party Local Government Manifesto from 2014. Our borough has moved from second most deprived local authority in the country in 2012 to 25th. Together we have achieved much for our residents and understand that there is much more to do.


We currently have the capacity and ability to borrow at competitive rates of interest. We are using that power to invest in opportunities which will support our ambitions while always evaluating investments for levels of risk. Investments which further our social aims, such as buying and building homes, will have those benefits included in any assessment of risk versus return. 


We have no alternative but to continue to drive our efficiency agenda forward. We have already saved considerable sums of money through our focus on efficiencies but there is more to be done. 

We have developed a new way of delivering services through a variety of small businesses based on co-operative principles. Wherever possible, these businesses will increase the participation of workers in the running and management of the company and receive a fair share of any profits arising from greater efficiency or increased business. This will help us deliver responsive and efficient local services in Newham and beyond which are fit for the future and is an effective alternative to privatisation.

Integral to this approach is to realise the benefits within the rest of the Council. We are creating a separate Commissioning Hub to identify exactly what we are buying. 

Finally, we have introduced a transformation programme to ensure we improve our customer services and maximise savings without reducing services in any way. 

Community Neighbourhoods:

A key part of our overall approach is the further development of our Community Neighbourhood programme. 

We realise that Labour Councillors – and the wider Party – should have strong roots in all our communities. The most effective way of ensuring this is to provide local councillors with real power to influence what happens in their local area.

Our individual Community Neighbourhoods are equivalent in population to medium sized towns. This devolution of power and responsibility is our strategic approach to ensure that residents benefit locally. 

A fit for purpose political organisation 

Essentially, therefore, the Council will: 

  • Focus on efficiencies to realise the savings which will protect front line services and a lower council tax
  • Drive operations through small business and our Community Neighbourhoods
  • Invest in areas which support our social objectives and deliver additional revenues. 

To support these I have decided to re-align our political responsibilities into four broad areas: 

  • Community Neighbourhoods will expand and, wherever appropriate, we will devolve operational issues to a more local level. To support this I will establish a team of Delivery Lead Councillors which will report as Mayoral Advisors to Councillor Ken Clark, who I appoint as my statutory Deputy Mayor.
  • To support this I have decided to establish a streamlined team of four Community Lead Councillors to oversee our Community Neighbourhood work. 
  • We will create a team of Resources Lead Councillors reporting to Councillor Lester Hudson, who will also act as a deputy mayor, but not in a statutory capacity. The primary task of this team will be to drive efficiencies and investments to ensure that we have the money to embark on our ambitious programme of service delivery and expansion.
  • There will also be a number of other Member posts, both at Cabinet and Mayoral Advisor level, with responsibility for relationships with schools, health partners, police, businesses and developers. 

The full details are enclosed as an attachment to this email. 

Future initiatives:

As a result of this ambitious realignment I anticipate that by 2020 we will be in a strong position with our budget and will, uniquely amongst councils, be able to invest increasing sums in better services to benefit our residents.  

To ensure we are ready to invest in services which make a difference to our residents I will be conducting a review of existing services and launching a debate within the Council, the local Labour Party and our wider community on what we want to achieve.

In particular, we will be reviewing 

  • Our local skills offer
  • How we deal with non-statutory vulnerability
  • Adult care – both residential and in the home
  • Health investment – particularly in primary care linked to Community Neighbourhoods
  • Our offer for people with mental health issues 

We have one of the most effective policy, research and public affairs teams in the country and we will use this resource to inform our debate within the Council. 

We can be rightly proud of our achievements as a Labour Council in recent years. Together with the plans we are putting in place to safeguard our financial independence for the coming years means we can drive a radical left agenda here in Newham. It is time for a fundamental change and I mean to drive it together with you as my Council and Party colleagues. 

Best wishes,


Newham’s political leadership – February 2017

Mayor and Lead Member for Business and Growth: Sir Robin Wales

Deputy Mayor (Statutory) – Strategic Delivery and Cabinet Member for Community Neighbourhoods, Regeneration and Planning and Public Affairs: Cllr Ken Clark

Deputy Mayor – Resources and Cabinet Member for Finance: Cllr Lester Hudson

Cabinet Member for Strategic Policy: Cllr David Christie

Cabinet Member for Financial Inclusion and Health Promotion: Cllr Frances Clarke

Cabinet Member for Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour, Sports and Leisure, and Deputy Cabinet Member for Community Neighbourhoods: Cllr Forhad Hussain

Cabinet Member for Children and Young People: Cllr Quintin Peppiatt

Cabinet Member for Work & Skills and Domestic Violence: Cllr Lakmini Shah

Cabinet Member for Transformation and the Small Business Programme (and Equalities): Cllr Rachel Tripp

Mayoral Advisor – Adults & Health – Cllr Clive Furness

Delivery Lead Councillors

Mayoral Advisor – Neighbourhoods Support – Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury

Mayoral Advisor – Neighbourhoods Support – Cllr Ann Easter

Mayoral Advisor – Environment – Cllr Pat Murphy

Mayoral Advisor – Housing – Cllr Terry Paul

Resources Lead Councillors

Mayoral Advisor – Place Commissioning – Cllr Andrew Baikie

Mayoral Advisor – Commercial Property – Cllr Ian Corbett

Mayoral Advisor – People Commissioning – Cllr Richard Crawford

Mayoral Advisor – New Media and Finance – Cllr Tahmina Rahman

Community Lead Councillors

Mayoral Advisor – Community Neighbourhoods Lead Councillor (and Adult Care) – Cllr Hanif Abdulmuhit

Mayoral Advisor – Community Neighbourhoods Lead Councillor (and Mental Health) – Cllr Idris Ibrahim

Mayoral Advisor – Community Neighbourhoods Lead Councillor (and Regeneration) – Cllr Mas Patel

Mayoral Advisor – Community Neighbourhoods Lead Councillor (and Children & Early Years) – Cllr Salim Patel


Chair of Council and Civic Lead – Cllr Joy Laguda

3 Responses to “Sir Robin re-arranges the deck chairs”

  1. Durriti February 26, 2017 at 13:45 #

    what wales is hoping no one sees is that he has split the Newham labour party in half and come election time perhaps many will not turn out to help him.

  2. Roger M February 28, 2017 at 16:31 #

    Wot, no Kevin Jenkins OBE?

    • Martin Warne February 28, 2017 at 16:40 #

      Kevin Jenkins is no longer a councillor. Stood down in 2014.

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