Cllr Andy Hull: Outgoing finance and crime chief on ‘regressive’ Universal Credit, responding to Finsbury Park terror attack and attending UK’s first gay marriage

Cllr Andy Hull. Picture: Islington Council

Cllr Andy Hull. Picture: Islington Council - Credit: Archant

Islington’s outgoing crime and finance chief reveals the highs and lows of his time in the cabinet – and says his biggest regret is not being able to “hold back the tide” on Universal Credit.

Cllr Andy Hull will step down from Islington's executive tomorrow so he can start a new role as chief exec of human rights charity EachOther on Monday - but he's carrying on as a Highbury West Labour councillor.

Cllr Hull, who was first elected in 2010 and has served in the executive for six years, told the Gazette: "Two of my most memorable moments both occurred in the middle of the night. At one minute past midnight on March 24, 2014, it was such a privilege to sit on the balcony above the town hall's council chamber, watching on proudly as Peter McGraith and David Cabreza tied the knot in the UK's first gay wedding. The council has always been at the forefront of the fight for equality.

"Then, on June 19, 2017, soon after midnight, I followed the sound of sirens to Finsbury Park, becoming the first person from the council to attend the site of that Ramadan evening's far-right terrorist attack. I will never forget standing with the police commander in the middle of that crime scene, with blue lights, paramedics and armed cops everywhere, helping to coordinate our community's response before opening a nearby rest centre for the murdered [Makram Ali's] family. One moment of sheer joy. One of tragedy. Both part of the most challenging but rewarding job I've ever had."

Cllr Hull is due to pass his seventh budget at full council this evening - and says now's the time for a new challenge.

He says he's tried to "chart the fairest possible course" for the borough, during a period when the council lost £250million - more than 50 per cent - of its core funding.

Cllr set up and chaired the country's first fairness commission in 2010 which focused on tackling poverty and reducing inequality. He also wrote the Co-operative Party charter against modern slavery, which more than 80 councils have since signed.

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Cllr Hull added: "My biggest regret is not being able to hold back the tide of Universal Credit, as the government's regressive so-called welfare reform leaves too many of our borough's residents desperate and destitute."

Asked why he wants to work at the charity in Holloway Road, Cllr Hull said: "EachOther's brilliant story-telling makes clear there's more that connects than divides us, inspiring people to think again about human rights. It makes the connections between universal principles and everyday experience. I'm thrilled to join EachOther's talented team, standing up, full of hope, for the rights that protect us all".