Tollington by-election imminent as Richard Watts joins Khan's 'top team'

Labour's Richard Watts at the Islington Gazette local elections hustings at St Mary's Church. Pictur

Richard Watts who is joining Sadiq Khan's "top team" at City Hall. - Credit: Archant

A by-election is Tollington ward is imminent, as Islington Council's leader Richard Watts prepares to join Sadiq Khan's "top team" at City Hall.

Cllr Watts has been appointed as a new advisor to the Mayor of London in the post of deputy chief of staff.

He is going to stand down as a councillor next Friday (May 21) before he starts his new job the following week, and told the Gazette a by-election might be held in July. 

Cllr Watts already announced his intention to stand down after as leader of the council in February, and plans to hand over the reins to Kaya Comer-Schwartz next Thursday (May 20) at the annual general meeting.

One of the responsibilities in his new politically restricted post, will be to chair the London Recovery Taskforce, working with boroughs and partners to drive the capital's recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.


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Cllr Watts has represented Tollington ward for 15 years, and has been leader of the council for eight years.

When it was announced Cllr Watts was standing down, some people on social media had jokingly questioned if he was going to join the Green Party - and one commenter asked if he was thinking of setting up a bike shop with Hackney's recently departed councillor, Jon Burke. 

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Mr Burke was responsible for the low traffic neighbourhood traffic calming measures in the neighbouring borough, where they have proved just as controversial in some quarters as in Islington.

As he offered Cllr Ward his congratulations, Mr Burke added: "That's the bike shop dream over, then. Great appointment."

Cllr Watts is one of a team of newly appointed senior advisors to Sadiq Khan, who he said will help him deliver on his pledges.

Mr Khan said: “I am delighted to announce these key appointments to my top team.

"I look forward to working with them to deliver a better and brighter future for everyone who calls this amazing, diverse city home.

“I pledge to use this second term to do everything I can to build the bridges that bring us closer together and I will work tirelessly throughout the next three years with my team to deliver for all Londoners.”

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