Islington Council faces lack of scrutiny, warns beaten Lib Dem leader
12:00 29 May 2014
The leader of Islington’s former Liberal Democrat opposition has said Labour can no longer be held to account after his party was wiped out in last Thursday’s election.
Terry Stacy, an Islington councillor for 12 years and leader at the town hall from 2008 to 2010, said that the borough’s only non-Labour councillor, Caroline Russell of the Green Party, will have a “real battle on her hands”.
Mr Stacy, who came sixth in his Highbury East ward but only received 29 fewer votes than third-placed Cllr Russell, said that, while he and his colleagues paid the price for national anger at the party, it was a local election on local issues.
The Lib Dems previously held all three seats in Highbury East, but Julie Horton and John Gilbert also lost their places on the council.
Mr Stacy said: “Islington has spoken and I respect the decision that the borough residents have made.
“But I think the key thing is who’s going to scrutinise Labour now? With the greatest respect to Caroline Russell being the community champion she is, she’s going to have a real battle on her hands – I do feel for her.
“Labour’s executive scrutiny function agrees with 99.9 per cent of its decisions and all she’s going to get is two questions at each full council meeting.
“I would like to thank everyone who voted Liberal Democrats last Thursday.
“We will still keep an eye on the town hall. We will still be standing up for residents and holding the councillors that did get in to account.”
The Lib Dems won 13 seats the last time Islington went to the polls in 2010, but in this election their candidates were relegated to last place in many wards.
It was in line with the party’s performance across the country, which saw it lose 284 seats in total with only 400 remaining.
“I don’t agree with everything the government does, but there were some very hard decisions to make after Labour left the nation bankrupt,” said Mr Stacy.
“This was the first time Islington had been to the polls since the last general election and an opportunity to show frustration with national issues, but this was a local election at the end of the day.
“But I do think in the next few years residents will wake up to see Labour for what they are.”
Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, said: “I think the Lib Dems knew they were going to be in for a difficult night – it’s not our job to make sure we have a strong opposition.
“We will continue to consult residents groups, charities and other organisations and are looking at making some changes to scrutiny to give it more independence.”