Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward to step down

Sarah Hayward, Labour leader of Camden Council

Sarah Hayward, Labour leader of Camden Council - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Sarah Hayward is stepping down as leader of Camden Council.

Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, atop Camden Town Hall. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance, atop Camden Town Hall. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Cllr Hayward wrote in a letter to Labour Party colleagues that “now is the right time to pass on the baton of leadership” to her successor – who will be picked at the group’s annual general meeting on May 2.

She will also quit as a councillor for King’s Cross in May 2018.

She said: “Before the 2014 local elections, I promised myself (and my husband) that I’d do just one more term as a councillor.

“When I started as leader, I set myself two principal goals: to leave Camden in a better place than when I started and to leave group with options for a strong successor as leader.

“I believe I have achieved both.”

Reacting to the news, Gospel Oak councillor and cabinet member for finance, technology and growth Theo Blackwell praised Cllr Hayward’s decision to step down and allow a new leader to “set out their stall”.

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He added: “She has an extremely good track record to be proud of.

“In the tradition of Camden leaders, she has prioritised housing. But she has also fought tooth and nail to get the best deal on HS2 and is highly respected for that.”

Cllr Blackwell said she had also done a good job funding domestic violence services and early years work.

He added that he expects her to complete a master’s degree in international development.

Asked if he will be standing as leader, Cllr Blackwell said “now is not the day to talk about those things”. He stressed he is focused on ensuring Labour wins the upcoming Gospel Oak by-election on May 4.

In her letter, Cllr Hayward highlighted 12 areas of her administration – which began in 2012 – that make her “most proud”.

They include: tackling inequality, boosting housing, fighting HS2, helping refugees, preventing homelessness, working on community cohesion, and creating innovative policy.

Also mentioned are: building strong community partnerships, budgeting, making council tax more progressive, maintaining high-quality public services, winning residents’ satisfaction, strong campaigning and “showing there is an alternative to Tory dogma”.

West Hampstead councillor Phil Rosenberg, meanwhile, said he is “sorry” Cllr Hayward is stepping down.

He added: “She has been a fantastic leader – and in very challenging times.

“She showed strength, compassion and creativity during her leadership.”