Exodus of Lib Dem councillors in west of Haringey confirmed for May elections
17:40 14 February 2014
Almost two-thirds of the Liberal Democrat councillors in the west of Haringey are stepping down in May’s elections, including two former leaders.
At a selection committee on Wednesday evening, 12 of Haringey Council’s 21 Lib Dem councillors confirmed they would not be standing in the elections later this year.
This includes Highgate councillor Neil Williams and Hornsey councillor Robert Gorrie, both former leaders of the local party.
It marks a sharp rise in the proportion of Lib Dem councillors stepping down from the council compared with the 2010 elections when 40 per cent of Haringey’s Lib Dem group chose not to seek re-election.
In Highgate, Cllr Rachel Allison will join Cllr Williams in stepping down in May after six years as a Lib Dem councillor in the ward.
She said: “I’ve really enjoyed all the casework and getting to know so many more people in Highgate but have found Haringey politics to be utterly infuriating.
“I’d like to see all councillors of whatever party working together for the good of residents rather than attempting to make political capital out of every single issue, no matter how trivial, though there are notable exceptions on both sides of the political divide.
“Haringey needs a strong opposition - there are far too many councillors of one party who have been running things, often badly, for too long - but blanket criticism is not the answer.”
Residents in Crouch End will lose two of their incumbent councillors in May.
Former Lib Dem Lyn Weber, who abandoned the party to become an independent Crouch End councillor in 2011, will stand again as an independent candidate, while Lib Dems Cllr Paul Strang and Cllr David Winskill will stand down.
Cllr Winskill said: “I’ve been councillor for Crouch End for 12 years and it’s been the happiest period of my working life. I’ve met some absolutely incredible people determined to fight for their families and their area.
“But 12 years is a very long time in anybody’s life and I really feel it is the right time to step down and hand over to other people.
“My prime reason is that I’ve been doing it for 12 years but also in Haringey it’s incredibly difficult to be an opposition councillor. It really wears you down because Haringey don’t take constructive criticism.
“They don’t want to take on board any ideas that come from outside their group. They are pretty immersed in a ‘second best will do’ mindset.”
In Alexandra ward, long-serving councillor David Beacham will stand again in May but will not be joined by colleagues Cllr Nigel Scott and Cllr Juliet Soloman.
Only one of Stroud Green’s three Lib Dem councillors will stand down in May with the departure of Cllr Ed Butcher.
In Muswell Hill and Hornsey, four of the six current Lib Dem councillors will leave in May.
Cllrs Jonathan Bloch and Jim Jenks will stand down in Muswell Hill, while Cllr Gail Engert will fight another election.
In Hornsey, Cllr Monica Whyte will join Cllr Gorrie in exiting the council but Cllr Errol Reid will stand again for the party.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Richard Wilson, who will be seeking re-election in Stroud Green, played down the exodus of serving councillors and said the party would be fielding a full slate of candidates across Haringey in May.
He said: “Four years is quite a long time to do any job so it’s not surprising some of them have decided to step down.
“Every four years we have a good number of councillors stand down because of family and other commitments. There’s nothing particularly unusual this time around. Obviously it’s sad for people who have given so much time but are unable to stand.
“We have got lots of fantastic people coming forward with lots of energy and new ideas. There’s no shortage of candidates.”