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#_The Good Athenian … or, the sacking of the Haringey Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

THIS has been the week of elections for positions, including SRA-positions, in the ruling Labour Group at Haringey Council, plus Cabinet-juggling.

One of the notable or surprising changes was the sacking from Cabinet—by Joseph Ejiofor—of Dr. Elin Weston, widely regarded as one of the more capable in the Majority Council Group.

The following was sent to me by a friend of democracy, for the enlightenment of Haringey residents. Dr. Weston's letter of yesterday, joins the Cabinet-sacking response-letters of Cllr. Ahmet (q.v.) and Cllr. Brabazon (q.v.); plus the resignation letter of the Lead member for Finance (Councillor Pat Berryman). Cllr. Tucker has left the Cabinet with less publicity for reasons that are unclear.


From: Cllr Weston Elin a href="mailto:Elin.Weston@haringey.gov.uk" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Elin.Weston@haringey.gov.uk>
Date: 16 May 2019 at 16:19:23 BST
To: Cllr Ejiofor Joseph a href="mailto:Joseph.Ejiofor@haringey.gov.uk" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Joseph.Ejiofor@haringey.gov.uk>, Labour Councillors a href="mailto:LabourCouncillors@haringey.gov.uk" target="_blank" rel="noopener">LabourCouncillors@haringey.gov.uk>

Dear Joe,
Thank you for circulating your proposed Cabinet in advance of tonight’s meeting. It confirms what many colleagues will already be aware of: that I am no longer a member of your Cabinet.
It has been a privilege to be the Lead Member for Children’s Services for the past three years. As I said in my application to remain in Cabinet this year, I believe that safeguarding our children and young people and ensuring that our services for them are the best that they can be are perhaps the most important things that this - and any - Council can do.
The role of Lead Member for Children’s Services is not easy. It is not headline making, unless things go wrong. It carries huge risk. It requires relentless focus on constant and continuous improvement with the aim of securing the best outcomes for our children and young people. It depends on the careful building of relationships with our officers and with our partners in health, the police and our schools.
In spite of the serious obstacles facing the Council in recent years, significant improvements have been made in children’s services during my time as Lead Member. I am proud to have led on exempting care leavers from council tax until they are 25; establishing the Haringey Education Partnership; creating an in-house fostering team; establishing a BAME attainment steering group to address educational attainment gaps; supporting the Virtual School which has helped our looked after children and young people achieve some of the best educational outcomes in the country; leading work to secure improvements to transitions for children and young people with SEND; and developing and promoting the corporate parenting work of the Council and Homes for Haringey.
As you know, these improvements were recognised by Ofsted following the recent inspection of our children’s services, and by the Local Government Association in its Peer Review. 
Despite all this, you informed me on Tuesday that you no longer had confidence in me.
Your decision was not related to my record in this role. It was not because of an inability to work constructively with colleagues in Cabinet or Group. It was not because of failures within my portfolio. 
Your decision was based on nothing more than pure internal politics, aimed at safeguarding your own position as Leader. 
Colleagues close to you were stating before Monday’s meeting that “if Zena wins [the Deputy Leadership], Elin will be out of Cabinet”. I am aware that some colleagues are now attempting to claim, variously, that 'after three years it was time for a change' and that I have not been effective in this role. You raised neither of these points with me on Tuesday. This is revisionism at its best.
Far more importantly, the sudden nature of your decision puts at risk the relationships that I have helped build over the past three years. These are relationships that will be central to our ability to continue to improve our children’s services and respond to the issues raised in recent inspection reports. We cannot, for example, provide effective early help, improve the health and wellbeing of our young people, or effectively support young people at serious risk of exploitation alone.
Your actions appear cynical and give the impression that your primary concern is neither for the residents of this borough nor for securing excellent services for the children, young people and families who need our support.
A good friend of mine recently told me about the concept of being a ‘good Athenian’. If you are unaware of this phrase - as I was - it means that we should aim always to use public office so that when we leave it, things are better than when we began. I can look back on my time as Lead Member for Children’s Services and say, confidently, that I have done this. I hope that you will feel able to look back on your Leadership in years to come and say the same.
Needless to say, I know that Zena will do a great job as the Cabinet Member for Children and Families and she has my full support. I wish you and your Cabinet the best for the upcoming municipal year and I look forward to continuing to play an active role from the backbenches.
Cllr Elin Weston
Labour Member for Hornsey
07976 978 252

From: Cllr Ejiofor Joseph
Sent: 16 May 2019 15:13
To: Labour Councillors
Dear Labour group colleagues,


Please find attached a document containing the proposed Cabinet Portfolios and Responsibilities for the forthcoming municipal year.






Cllr Joseph Ejiofor
Leader | Haringey Council
Labour Councillor for Bruce Grove
020 8489 2241 | 079 4000 5507

Tags: Childrens Services, Elin Weston, Haringey Council, Joe Ejiofor, Noah Tucker, Pat Berryman, Peray Ahmet, Zena Brabazon, cabinet, leader, More…novice, sacking, struggling

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