Good that the Labour administration has decided to restore the role of chief executive and are to reappoint the popular council chief executive Michael Lockwood, forced out by the short-lived Tory administration.
This is yet another defeat for the Harrow opposition leader who has been repeatedly leading her Tory group to defeats (Councils in 2010 & 2014 – five sitting Tory councillors were defeated – and 2 by-elections in 2013).
Michael knows Harrow well and was much liked for his resident-friendly approach.
However, during councillor Hall’s elected-mayor style Tory administration, grabbed through a highly controversial process*, many noticed a tense culture of fear’ at the civic centre, marked by the resignation of the chief executive, followed by some key directors leaving seemingly Hall-style administration was not possible with a strong chief executive in place.
Responding to the invitation to Mr Lockwood’s farewell event last December, Husain Akhtar, then a councillor, said, “Michael is a gentleman, wish him best and will be delighted to say ’bye for now’ to him privately, but I don’t intend to attend a show directed by those who axed his position in the first place.
Such was the nature of the show’ that the members of the Tory group were seemingly instructed not to attend the event in number to demonstrate that the leaving chief executive is not popular and would not be missed.
This personalisation is likely to continue at the council meeting next week where the opposition group led by Cllr Hall is to vote against approving the appointment of Mr Lockwood, despite some reservation within her group, as it appears.
- Like in 2014, voters also voted in Labour administration to run the council in 2010
- In mid-2013, a breakaway Independent Labour Group, snatched the council administration from Labour with the support of and encouragement from the Tory group leadership – the ILG seemingly had personal grudge against some in the Labour group which became highly toxic with the time
- Few months later, the Tory group grabbed the council administration with the support of the well groomed Independent Labour Group who voted in the Tory group leader as the leader of the council through a highly controversial process which created the political mess i.e. a hung council where both the Labour and Tory groups had 25 councillors each, putting Tory minority administration in place by the 8 ILG councillors
- Harrow finished up with an elected-mayor style short-lived Tory administration and three different council cabinets and administrations within a short period