Staff ordered to call Camden town hall boss ‘Dear Leader’

Some lead by persuasion and others rule with an iron rod. But Camden Council staff were on alert after being ordered to address emails to town hall boss Cllr Sarah Hayward with the words “Dear Leader”.

The instruction, with a distinctly Maoist tone, was quickly dismissed by council leader Cllr Hayward as a “well-intentioned” mistake by a junior administration assistant, who emailed senior officers to inform them of the change on Tuesday (June 12).

Cllr Hayward told the Ham&High: “It was nothing to do with me and I have no idea what prompted it. I am happy to be called plain old Sarah or anything really as long as it’s not offensive.

“I hope people are not treating it seriously.

“It was a well-intentioned mistake. I’m not going into any naming and shaming though.”

The leaked letter to Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column sparked some sniggering among political rivals in the Camden Conservative and Liberal Democrat camps.

Cllr Andrew Mennear said it was the second gaffe of Cllr Hayward’s tenure as leader of the council since she was appointed last month, after it emerged earlier this month that a Muslim worker had been docked pay for taking five-minute breaks to pray.

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“It’s not a great start, backtracking twice in a few weeks,” said the Conservative opposition leader.

“Cllr Sarah Hayward thought Camden needed something different as leader. But I don’t think most of us were thinking of North Korea as a model to be followed.”

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Keith Moffitt, a former leader of the council, said: “Someone at the council is probably getting a good talking to. I have always been a great believer in informality and I was always happy to be called Keith.

“But sometimes, especially when you are doing something in writing a little bit of formality can be quite helpful.”

The council’s chief executive Mike Cooke confirmed the Dear Leader proposal had been scrapped.