AFTER Sally Gimson confirmed her decision to challenge for the Town Hall leadership in an email to Labour councillors this week, Sarah Hayward has now responded with her own call to arms, a message to the group in which she assesses her four years in charge. Here’s the text of her comeback…
As you will now be aware there will be a leadership contest this year. I am writing to ask you to vote for me to continue as Leader of Camden Council. Challenge is a healthy and essential part of democracy but now is not the time to change course. We need strong and effective leadership of a strong and effective Labour group to continue fighting the Tories and delivering our Labour values.
While we face very significant attacks from the Tories, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Camden Labour has achieved a huge amount since group first elected me leader. We should all take immense pride at our innovative Labour agenda, delivered in the worst circumstances possible. We should not let others undermine this and we should not give them ammunition to do so.
Here are just a few of our achievements:
We’re building more council housing than almost every other borough
We have delivered the living wage and are implementing Unison’s Ethical Care Charter. We have won national praise from the trade union for this work
We have the best primary schools and some of the best secondary schools in the country
We’re one of the only local authorities in the country to have maintained all our funding for domestic violence services & are running award winning campaigns to tackle the issue
We’re innovating in youth services, in school improvement and in housing provision
We’re tackling rogue landlords in the private rented sector
We’re bolder and going further than any other employer on equalities – publishing our pay gap data, having a minimum earnings guarantee and keeping our pay ratio below 1 in 10.
Our achievements are driven by all of us. Many of our greatest achievements have come from your work as scrutiny chairs, members and champions; there are countless examples where you have made a real difference.
Taking an idea from inception to implementation isn’t easy and requires strong leadership. I’ve worked hard over the last four years to ensure that Labour councillors and our officers are all pulling in the same direction to deliver our shared Labour values.
Camden is currently viewed as one of the most innovative and forward thinking Labour boroughs. Other councils come to learn from us. We’re respected across the Labour Party, and the local government family. We’re respected by our partners in the public and private sectors. This respect is hard won and could be too easily lost. It pays dividends for us and our residents.
But none of this is easy. The Tories have decimated our budgets and are trying to tear us apart. By trying to end social housing, trying to end our role in schools, ending the welfare benefits system they are attacking Labour’s values and Camden’s values. But we’re fighting the Tories – and we’re winning. We have done this together on issues like HS2 and Housing, we have done it with our MPs, peers and GLA members on issues like policing, the fire service, schools and HS2, we have done it with other councils on the finances and housing, and we have stood proud as Camden when we have needed to.
This fight must continue. The Tories want to end the welfare state as we know it. Rip up what remains of the post-1945 settlement. It is in our very core to fight to keep it.
We are in the midst of a number of these battles, on schools, on housing on HS2 and on finance. Last year we worked hard to update our policy agenda – the Camden Plan – and that is now in place to help us maintain strong political and campaigning momentum through to 2018. We must redouble our efforts to deliver our 2014 manifesto and work towards developing a new offer for 2018.
Over the next two years we need to redouble our efforts:
· Implementing our manifesto commitments by seeing through delivery of the Camden Plan and using these achievements to develop a bold new agenda for 2018
· Finding ways to preserve and protect our vital social housing so Camden remains a mixed community where everyone succeeds and no one is left behind
· Building on the strength of our partnership with schools to preserve high quality state education for future generations of Camden children
· Tackling rough sleeping by supporting people to find homes and jobs
· Continue to fight the worst effects of HS2
· Challenge ourselves to always go further and do more than we already are
· Get to grips with a completely new model of local government finance that could fundamentally change the way we work
· Explore how we can build on the innovations of the last four years, like maternal employment, TimeWise, the schools partnership and more.
Our achievements aren’t ours alone. Our communities, neighbours and party members, with businesses, tenants, trade unions and the rest of the public sector are all valued partners. These are tough times but we have strong friendships that will help us deliver for Camden.
We have an agenda that is widely understood and supported within our communities. We must stay on course to secure Camden’s future.
I intend to spend the next few weeks working as hard as I can to deliver a Labour Mayor and Labour Assembly Members on 5th May. But I would be really grateful if you can spare some time to give me your ideas on how we can build on our successes, continue to innovate and continue to take the fight to the Tories and I would love to answer any questions you have.
We’re a brilliant council and a formidable team. We should keep it that way.
My warmest wishes,
Leader of Camden Labour Group and Camden council.