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Former mayor savages former Labour colleagues

PUBLISHED: 12:23 06 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:21 07 September 2010

Charlotte Newton THE former mayor of Haringey claims that he defected to the Tories because of the self-serving, money grabbing attitude of some of his Labour colleagues. Alan Dobbie (pictured) who was the mayor of Haringey until May, said he felt compell

Charlotte Newton

THE former mayor of Haringey claims that he defected to the Tories because of the self-serving, money grabbing attitude of some of his Labour colleagues.

Alan Dobbie (pictured) who was the mayor of Haringey until May, said he felt compelled to switch parties after a La-bour group AGM meeting in May this year.

He claims that while Labour councillors jostled for positions in the cabinet and on committees, some were more concerned about the financial reward they would receive, rather than whether a person was equipped to do the job.

Every councillor receives an annual basic allowance of £10,530. They can receive a further £23,691 on top of that for being a cabinet member or for chairing the overview and scrutiny committee, or an extra £15,795 for chairing various committees.

"The allowances Haringey councillors receive are extremely generous," Cllr Dobbie, who is now the Conservative representative of Noel Park, said.

"I had colleagues saying to me 'if you sit on the overview and scrutiny committee you will get that much money'. But my argument was 'do you think I'd be any good on the scrutiny committee?' It should be about how competent a person would be at a job, not how much taxp ayers' money they would receive."

Mr Dobbie, who was a signed up member of the Labour Party for 27 years, said he felt that the Party was out of touch with voters both locally and nationally.

"I was sickened by the expenses row which affected MPs from all parties," he said.

"But Labour MPs representing some of the most deprived parts of the country should have known better."

Mr Dobbie added that the row over whether the Gurkhas should be given British nationality also influenced his decision to swap sides. It was only after a high profile campaign by the actress Joanna Lumley that the government agreed to allow many Gurkha veterans the right to settle in the UK.

"The issue of the Gurkhas finished it for me," he said. "As mayor last year I handed out about 1,000 certificates to Haringey residents who wanted to become British citizens in ceremonies, in Wood Green Civic Centre every Friday.

"Yet at the same time, the British government was re-fusing to allow the Gurkhas to stay here, even though they had made the ultimate sacrifice by fighting for this country."

Monday marked the second anniversary of the death of Baby P, who is now known as Peter.

The 17-month-old boy was tortured and brutally killed on August 3 2007, by his 28-year-old mother, her 33-year-old boyfriend and their 37-year-old lodger.

The case sparked a national outcry and thrust Haringey's child protection services into the spotlight when it emerged that Peter was on the "at risk register" and he had been seen 60 times by social workers, police and health professionals.

Cllr Dobbie said that while Peter's death rocked the council to the core it was not the reason for his defection.

"Everyone was deeply affected by Baby P and we all let him down," he said.

"It would be wrong of me to play party politics with the issue. I know George Meehan [the former leader who resigned over the case] and he's a good man. I know how much it upset him.

"Councillors were getting spat at in the street and I received abusive phone calls at the 3am from people.

"I do believe that if someone kills a child they should lose their right to live. People who murder and torture children deserve the death penalty."

The Labour Party chose not to make a comment.


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