Haringey Council leader ousted by rival in Labour group vote

Cllr Peray Ahmet and Cllr Joseph Ejiofor

Cllr Peray Ahmet and Cllr Joseph Ejiofor - Credit: Haringey Council/Polly Hancock

Councillor Peray Ahmet has won the vote against Joseph Ejiofor in a leadership challenge at the top of Haringey Labour, the Ham&High understands. 

In a vote at the group's AGM on Monday (May 10) the Noel Park councillor defeated Cllr Ejiofor, who has been Haringey Council leader since 2018.

This newspaper understands Cllr Ahmet won the contest by one vote after a third candidate, Cllr Mike Hakata, withdrew. 

Cllr Hakata was voted in as Haringey Labour’s new deputy leader, replacing Cllr Dana Carlin. 

Following the decision, Cllr Ejiofor told the Ham&High: “It has been the honour of my life to serve as the Leader of our great borough for the past three years.

"I am immensely proud of all that we have achieved during this time; building a fairer Haringey and tackling the issues that matter most to local people.

"Delivering change takes time, and I’m disappointed that I won’t see the fruition of some of the ambitious changes we have made.

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“From a standing start, work to deliver 1,000 new council homes at council rents is now well underway and our housing delivery team is up for a nationally recognised award.

"We have made huge progress addressing poverty and inequality in the borough through expanding eligibility for Free School Meals, making council taxation fairer, becoming a Living Wage employer, and helping residents access the benefits they’re entitled to.

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor next to Oliver Tambo's statue in the Albert Road Rec. Picture: Haringey Council

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor next to Oliver Tambo's statue at Albert Road Rec - Credit: Archant

“We have brought public services back in house (so that residents own what they pay for, not profit-driven private companies); made our Council and our borough greener; invested in young people with youth hubs, a new University Bursary scheme, apprenticeships, and work experience opportunities.

“With the backdrop of austerity, Brexit, and Covid-19, these achievements have been hard won. I believe that my time as Leader of Haringey Council is proof that progressive policies remain a necessity and can be implemented in even the most difficult circumstances.

“I know that Cllr Ahmet is keen to take on this role and I wish her well.”

In 2018 Cllr Ahmet was the closest challenger to Cllr Ejiofor when he assumed office.  

The Noel Park councillor was then appointed to the leader’s cabinet, before she was sacked around six months later, in a move announced on New Year’s Eve.

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West tweeted: “Congratulations to Cllr Ahmet in winning the vote in the Labour Group AGM and I wish her and the whole council every success in tackling growing inequality in Haringey.

"Post pandemic we desperately need to see more job opportunities, building more social homes, and promoting greener, safer neighbourhoods.” 

Cllr West also thanked outgoing leader Cllr Ejiofor for tackling homelessness and providing food support during the pandemic.

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison, the leader of Haringey's Liberal Democrat opposition, said: “As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, the council should be focusing on supporting our local residents and hard-hit businesses.

"Instead, Labour are once again looking inwards, and tearing strips off one another. This administration is utterly dysfunctional, and Haringey deserves better.”

The changes to the ruling Labour group are expected to be ratified at a meeting of the full council on May 24, when Cllr Ahmet will be sworn in as the town hall's new leader.