Andrew Mennear considers stepping down at 20 year milestone

Andrew Mennear

ONE of the characters of our council chamber years, a man almost painted indelibly into the story of what has gone at the Town Hall over the last two decades is considering an end to his long stint on the Conservative benches. The Tories would be losing one of their most experience heads if Andrew Mennear, a councillor in supersafe Conservative ward Frognal, does decide that it is time to pull the curtain down. He’s coy if you ask him about his plans, but doesn’t deny that it’s something to think about.

The next borough-wide elections in 2018 would mark 20 years for him (you get less for murder etc etc), including let’s not forget four years as Camden’s education chief. He almost became an MP in Finchley and Golders Green in 2005, denied by the late Rudy Viz by just 741 votes. It was an election too soon, for as we know the Conservatives have won the last two elections there since with Mike Freer. Since the Lib Dem and Conservative partnership came to an end in 2010 and with the emergence of Claire-Louise Leyland as leader and Hampstead councillor Oliver Cooper as the new gunslinger, Mennear has played a less substantial role on the front bench but he’s still capable of taking on the cabinet. He’s a busy man with his day job at BP, too.

As he insisted lips were sealed on Monday night, I joked with him that there would be petitions over this, simply because he has been a great panto villain to watch, a sort of cartoon Mr Nasty sand-kicking and popping left-wing party balloons wherever he could. The best example of his political escapades in north London? Easy, he once told Stonewall they should pay for condoms to be cleared from Hampstead Heath, even posing with some discarded packs of johnnies for a picture in the papers. When people on benefits were told to move from Camden, and their established networks more recently, to Birmingham, meanwhile, he said: “London isn’t everything. There is a life outside of London.” This guy was doing say what you think politics long before Jeremy Corbyn, and fair play to him for being that way.

Enjoyably, btw, here he is telling people to stop boring on in council meetings…

While he considers a possibly exit, I’m not allowed to use tabloid terms like stampede or exodus for the likelihood of others joining him at the door. Others can do that, for the gossip this week was that at least five of the 12 Conservative councillors are wondering whether next time may be the right moment to step down, including, it’s said, Tom Currie in Hampstead. Andrew Marshall, a former group leader, has already made clear his intention not to renew in Swiss Cottage following the EU referendum result.

8 Comments on Andrew Mennear considers stepping down at 20 year milestone

  1. Who is waving the white flag now?

    • You might remember, Theo, back in early 2010, politicians on all sides were lamenting your announced intention, to withdraw from local politics. Your contribution to political life in Camden was being generously acknowledged by your most ardent opponents. You could have shown a bit of class and done likewise, with this news.

  2. There will be many people, who have served with the Camden Conservative’s, who will look back in gratitude for the good counsel given by Mennear. His political philosophy is, not to take dissect one’s opponent with hatchet but rather with a precisely wielded scalpel. His is the view that nothing serves better than becoming a master of one’s brief and then speaking with authority. Note how the council chamber quietens whenever he stands to speak. I’m not sure if I ever mastered his craft in my short time in office, but I certainly was the better for his advice and guidance. Long live, Mennear!

  3. John Bryant // November 23, 2016 at 2:32 pm //

    Correction! He was not in charge of Education between 2006-10. He was the Executive Member for Schools, which is somewhat different. As the Executive Member for Children between 2006-08 (which was the senior role in the Council’s constitution) I had oversight across the full range of Children’s Services including nurseries, special provision, and children’s social care as well as planning school places. My colleague Janet Grauberg took on this role between 2008-10.

  4. always delighted to see the back of any Tory any chance he could Take Tory collaborator Theo Blackwell with him ?

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