Haringey Council leader Claire Kober to quit

Claire Kober has announced she is quitting as leader of Haringey Council. Picture: John Macdonald-Fu

Claire Kober has announced she is quitting as leader of Haringey Council. Picture: John Macdonald-Fulton - Credit: Archant

Haringey leader Claire Kober has announced she is to quit the council.

Haringey leader Claire Kober has announced she is to quit the council.

The announcement published in a letter via Haringey’s website came earlier today and follows weeks of resignations within the council ahead of local elections in May.

In the letter Cllr Kober says: “I feel this is the right point at which to move on to new challenges.”

Cllr Kober became Haringey leader in 2008 in the wake of the Baby P scandal which saw the borough’s children’s services slammed over failing to protect 17-month old Peter Connelly who died of injuries inflicted by his mother, her boyfriend and his brother.

The councillor for Seven Sisters ward and chair of London Councils, adds: “Becoming leader in Haringey at one of the lowest points in its history made me realise what an enormous challenge, and profound privilege, it is to lead a borough like ours.

“More than anything, the last 10 years have shown me the difference good political leadership can make,” she goes on to say.

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In an apparent reference to council plans to regenerate the borough by pairing up with private developer Lendlease, Cllr Kober says for “too many years” there was a lack of focus on providing “safe and secure” housing and better jobs.

“These are not easy things to deliver, and rarely come without controversy. But taking the easy path is to let down those who need us most. Political issues are rarely binary; solutions are not simply good or bad,” she says.

The plans, known as the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), are currently the subject of a High Court judicial review. The scheme sparked protests within the borough and its progress is due to be voted on at a full council meeting on February 7 called by opposition Liberal Democrats.

In the letter, Cllr Kober, who lives in Muswell Hill, goes on to note how under her watch the number of Haringey schools rated or good or outstandin by watchdog Ofsted has risen from 65 percent to “almost” 100pc.

The restoration of Alexandra Palace and Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End are also flagged up as signs Haringey is making the borough a better place in the face of sweeping cuts to council budgets.

The letter ends: “It is hard to put into words how difficult it has been to reach this decision. It’s impossible to imagine what could match being able to help people and change things for the better in the way that everyone in local government does every day.”

In response to the announcement, Haringey Lib Dem leader of the opposition Gail Engert said: “Haringey’s Labour party is in crisis.”

In reference to reports Cllr Kober was leaving after becoming disillusioned with sexism, bullying and personal attacks on her from within Labour, Cllr Engert added: “Residents deserve better than a divided, disunited party that has become complacent after almost half a century in power. A party that has now been accused of bullying and sexism by it’s outgoing leader.

“I am glad Labour have finally started to wake up to the failures in the HDV scheme. The chain of events that have unfolded since the Haringey Lib Dems called for an extraordinary full council meeting to vote to stop the HDV, has now all but led to the final nail in the coffin for this flawed venture, that the Lib Dems have long opposed.

“Whilst Liberal Democrats have disagreed with much of what Cllr Kober has stood for over her tenure, her service to the borough should not be unrecognised and we wish her and her family all the best for the future,” she added.

This story is being updated.