Islington’s chief exec Lesley Seary to step down after eight years of ‘compassionate leadership’

Islington's chief exec Lesley Seary is stepping down. Picture: Islington Council

Islington's chief exec Lesley Seary is stepping down. Picture: Islington Council - Credit: Archant

The chief exec of Islington Council has announced her imminent resignation after eight years of “calm and compassionate leadership”.

Lesley Seary will step down in the coming weeks, after helping to steer Islington through a tumultuous period in local government amid ongoing austerity cuts: between 2010 and 2020 the borough will have lost 70 per cent of its core funding.

Despite this bleak backdrop, Ms Seary played a vital role in setting up the Islington Employment Commission, which has helped 5,500 people find work since 2014.

She has also chaired the youth justice board and helped to establish the borough’s integrated gangs team, which focuses on early intervention to help solve complex cases, tackling issues such as the county lines crisis. This sees youngsters groomed by older gangs and sent to sell drugs in other cities and rural areas.

Ms Seary has also served as a role model, as she joined a small number of women leading local authorities when she started at Islington in 2011.

She said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with such a passionate and committed team across Islington and I am really proud of what we have achieved.

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“The council is at a pivotal stage, with ambitious plans for the future and while I am really excited about what the future holds for Islington, part of being a leader is knowing when to step aside and for me that time is now. As Islington embarks on the next stage of its journey, I believe it will benefit from fresh leadership from someone who can commit totally to at least five years to lead and deliver on those plans.”

Town hall chief Cllr Richard Watts said: “I have been lucky to have such a strong and experienced chief exec in place throughout my time as leader.

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“Lesley has led the council confidently through one of the most challenging times for local Government as we have tackled huge cuts to funding from the Government.

“As was the case when she was one of the first people on the scene after the Finsbury Park terrorist attack, Lesley is known for her calm and compassionate leadership.

The process of recruiting Ms Seary’s successor will begin shortly.

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