Greenwich council leader to step down
By poppy_smith | Sunday, February 17, 2013, 21:55
The Council Leader will not seek another term after the 2014 elections.
The Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Chris Roberts, has today informed councillors by email that he is to stand down following the elections in 2014.
The letter is below:
"I am writing to advise you of my intention to stand down as leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. In doing so, I am confirming that I shall not be seeking another term as leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich following the 2014 local government elections.
"It had originally been my intention to stand down at the election in May 2010. However, securing Royal Borough status for Greenwich and our hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games persuaded me to continue to 2012, particularly given the work which went into them. I gave notice to the Chief Executive ahead of the 2010 election of my intentions and I am now making them known to you.
"At the conclusion of my present term I shall have led the Borough for fourteen years during which time we have witnessed considerable change and improvement. During this time we have seen Greenwich move from being one of the highest taxed councils in London to one of the lowest with council tax frozen more often than not and cumulative increases below what they would have been if linked to inflation. In recent times we have managed the most severe cuts of £70m through a rolling programme of efficiency reviews which has protected front line services and even permitted the expansion of children's centres, libraries, leisure and sports facilities. Our management of the public finances enabled us last week to announce a balanced budget for the next two years during which Council Tax will be frozen for the sixth and seventh consecutive years.
"The borough has undergone major regeneration over the past 12 years not least in the transformation of the Millennium Dome into the world's most successful entertainment venue at The O2. Public transport has been enhanced with the development of a new DLR station at Woolwich, expanded river bus services and hopefully the successful conclusion of negotiations to bring a Crossrail station to Woolwich. Nothing would cement the regeneration of the poorest part of our Borough than this critical element of infrastructure and it is the one thing above all I should wish to conclude ahead of my departure.
"I am particularly proud of the achievements of our local labour scheme (GLLaB) and that this became the template for the Olympic Host Boroughs in generating local employment for the Games of 2012. To have placed almost 11,000 local residents into work shows our regeneration programme carries with it a strong human and personal element. This is also reflected in the raising of standards in our schools to the point where results now outstrip the national average. I take pride in these results not least because they involved changes to the council's administrative leadership and in schools structures which did not always carry unanimous political support. However, the real credit for success must go to those head teachers who have supplied the leadership and drive to raise standards of attainment and the quality of their leadership has been the defining attribute.
"In the period between now and May 2014, I intend to ensure the Council does all it can to alleviate the growing challenge of greater poverty within the borough, by supporting people off benefits and into work. The regeneration and growth agenda across the borough remains a vital priority and the Council will shortly announce the development of capital projects which will exceed £100m. This resource will enhance our economy, improve and build new homes and create more school places for the children of our borough.
"I am grateful to the many council officers and external partner organisations with whom I have worked. While it is always inappropriate to name individuals it nevertheless seems unfair not to mention the Council's Chief Executive, Mary Ney. I have been blessed to have been supported by the best Chief Executive in London, by my wonderful office manager, Veronica Johnson and my fabulous PA Sophie Lewis. To my colleague councillors, I thank them for their support over the years and the dedication many of them have shown. Again, I must pay particular thanks to my Deputy Leader, Peter Brooks.
"Most of all I am grateful to the people of Greenwich. It has been a tremendous honour to lead this borough and to leave it hopefully for the better. It has been a pleasure to lead the Labour Group to three successive election victories each one of which has seen our results outshine the London average. I believe this is due to the very strong vision and direction of travel we have set allied to the most efficient management of public finances in the capital.
"I was not born here but like many thousands have chosen this place to live and make my life. Nothing I do in the future will be as rewarding or as interesting as the challenge and enjoyment of public service in Greenwich and nothing will give me greater pride."