The new, new Camden cabinet
COUNCIL leader Georgia Gould will today line up her new cabinet at the Town Hall in their new positions... just 127 days after announcing her first new cabinet in May. While places on the executive are decided by an internal vote of Labour councillors, the actual portfolios are these days dealt down from the leader. While the job titles are due to be altered here and there with some council babble, headline changes will see Meric Apak taken off bins, one of the key issues which the Tories will attack the Labour council over ahead of next May’s Town Hall elections.
With weekly waste collections in some streets withdrawn earlier this year. expect to see many more belfies through the winter. New cabinet member Adam Harrison (pictured) gets to front that out. Cllr Apak, meanwhile, finally lands the housing job; again the name of the position may be fiddled around with, but it’s the housing job.
Deputy council leader Pat Callaghan swaps housing for social services. Abdul Hai, who is not allowed to do certain duties because they clash with his private work with Market Tech, the company redeveloping Camden Lock but is gamely staying on, will work on ‘youth and cohesion’. He will find himself working with former mayor Nadia Shah who takes up a community safety brief. In at the deep end, it’s down to her confront the return of drug dealing on council estates and the rife homelessness so poignantly highlighted by Camden Mayor Richard Cotton in recent months.
As trailed on these pages, there’s no surprises with Richard Olszewski taking Theo Blackwell’s job as Camden’s finance chief; perhaps the most important role below leader it’s an appointment that’s perhaps telling as to what Cllr Gould thinks of him. Politically, it’s seen as a like for like replacement, but with perhaps a more polite way of delivering the message. It also means, and now this won’t be a surprise, that Labour are now very confident of holding seats in Fortune Green, once the Liberal Democrat stronghold in Camden. Danny Beales, meanwhile, the other new face takes on a lot of the role previously occupied by Phil Jones (of all the big names who have departed this year, he might be missed the most) and big responsibilities as the lead on Camden’s controversial Community Investment Programme.
Finally, I can confirm nobody will be called the ‘executive member for customers’, the embarrassing title once bestowed on Cllr Hai. The term ‘customers’ is being consigned to the bad ideas skip amid a quiet agreement that it sounded like Camden was running a business rather than a council.
Cllr Gould has indeed come up with a couple of creative names for the cabinet portfolios: Schools and education will be known as ‘cabinet member for best start in life’. “Council services are much less silo-ed and now work in teams with a clear focus on objectives to tackle the biggest challenges faced by residents. We now need a democratic structure to reflect that,” she says in an email to Labour group detailing the reshuffle.