AT first glance, Camden’s Labour group is united at last, with nobody challenging the personnel of its cabinet at tonight’s annual general meeting; a marked contrast to some of the overthrows and ambushes the occasion has thrown up in the past. But, hang on for a sec, when it came to the choosing of committee chairs, voting councillors were split in two – the division so stark that there needed to be a recount for the two contested positions.
It was only when somebody abstained in further rounds of voting that winners could be declared. Jenny Headlam-Wells pipped Oliver Lewis to carry on heading the Childrens, Schools and Families scrutiny committee.
It was just as tight for stewardship of the Audit Committee, which Maeve McCormack wrested from the hands of Abdul Quadir by the slimmest of margins after an initial drawn vote. In the grand scheme of Labour AGMs, this is pretty low key, but it isn’t to Abdul and his supporters, who were upset that the way he had stepped up and covered the committee following the sad death of Peter Brayshaw had not been recognised with a renewal. The move to challenge him, the more rebellious briefings had it tonight, did not fit into this truce of an AGM, and no-fly zone constructed for general election year. Some who might have been expected to have been clearer in their support for Maeve, meanwhile are understood to have felt worried about looking ‘nasty’ towards a long-server like Abdul, unexpectedly tightening up the actual vote.
Back to the cabinet, Sally Gimson was switched to health by the unchallenged leader Sarah Hayward and Pat Callaghan is reshuffled to housing, left vacant by Julian Fulbrook’s resignation. She will be good with Camden’s vociferous tenants movement in what is a testing role, but group members would’ve had to have been blind to see how much that portfolio had been coveted by new cabinet member Meric Apak. He was really keen on housing, it’s his thing, but he has been effectively told to get some top table experience first with the more junior sustainability brief. Nobody, the messages goes out, just walks into this cabinet and picks the role they want straight off the bat.