Islington Council leader to step down next month

Cllr Catherine West

Cllr Catherine West - Credit: Archant

The boss of Islington Council ended months of speculation on Saturday when she confirmed she would step down as leader next month.

Cllr Catherine West, speaking at an Islington Labour Party away day over the weekend, said she will officially resign from her position at the full council meeting on October 10 so she can concentrate on her forthcoming election campaign for the Hornsey and Wood Green parliamentary seat.

Rumours about an autumn departure had been circulating for a while, but the starting gun has now been sounded for her potential successor, who will be elected by the Labour group on October 7.

Cllr West moved to Upper Holloway from Australia in 1998 and has been a Tollington ward councillor since 2002 – a position she will keep until the elections next May.

The 47-year-old, who speaks five languages, has been leader of Islington Labour since 2004 and head of the council since 2010. Earlier this year she was named the best council leader in the country by the Local Government Information Unit and the Churches, Charities and Local Authorities organisation.

She said: “It was my birthday on Saturday when I made the announcement so I was a bit of a blubbering mess.

“I will really miss the hands on element of local government. The sense of genuinely having an effect on things like crime, sitting with the Kinsella family and talking to them, or chatting with people on estates about their problems, and being able to do something about it.

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“But it feels like I am leaving on a good year. I am so proud of the GCSE results in the borough as well as our focus on employment, the living wage, free school meals.

“I have had women come up to me and say ‘I’ve never bothered voting before, but after seeing you now I get it’. That makes all the hard graft over the last 10 years seem worth it.”