By Aodha O’Carroll, Account Executive
This week saw Cllr Kieron Williams elected as the new Leader of the Labour Group on Southwark Council, and with Southwark’s annual council taking place next week, he will become the Leader of Southwark Council.
The change of leadership marks the end of Peter John’s 10-year stint. It had always been Cllr John’s plan to step down after ten years, as was reported when Cllr John initially announced his departure in March. However, this was delayed due to circumstances demanding Cllr John stay on to lead the council through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cllr John has been an inspiring leader for Southwark, leading the way in terms of regeneration and the transformation of Southwark into the vibrant borough we know today.
He was a very vocal leader and never shied away from voicing his opinion on local and national political matters. A particular bone of contention during his tenure has been that with the radical left-wing campaign group in Labour, Momentum. Cllr John also showed great disappointment with his party’s leadership over the question of European membership, at times expressing exasperation when campaigning on the doorstep for his party when asked about Labour’s Brexit platform.
When we look back on the John-era, his reputation will likely be tied to the fate of large-scale regenerations such as that in Elephant & Castle and whether they can deliver on the housing needs for the borough. The plans for Elephant & Castle are hoped to deliver more than 5,000 new and replacement homes, 10,000 jobs and leisure and retail offerings. The scheme is set to cost £4bn over a 15-year span.
Cllr Kieron Williams becomes leader at a time when Labour has its strongest electoral position on the Council and will oversee the major projects started by his predecessor. Prior to becoming leader, Cllr Williams has worked in local government as an officer for most of his career, local health policy being his primary focus. He began in Sheffield City Council, staying for eight-years and then joined Lambeth Borough Council as their Head of Health and Wellbeing.
Since joining Southwark Council as a ward councillor for Camberwell Green in 2014, he rose to sit on the Cabinet from 2018 and has handled the Cabinet brief for Housing Management and Modernisation. Since Peter John’s announcement in March, Cllr Williams was picked out by local press and Southwark insiders as a potential replacement alongside Cllr Jonathan Situ and the former Deputy Leader Rebecca Lury.
Elected as Cllr Williams’ Deputy is Cllr Jasmine Ali, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Adult Care. Cllr Ali has been praised for her recent work on pushing for improved children’s mental health services in the borough and the ambitious targets she has set for the local area.
Here at Cratus, we would like to thank Cllr John for the work he has done for Londoners over the last ten years and wish Cllrs Williams and Ali the very best of luck in their new leadership positions.