Leader of the Barnet Council steps down
At the last council meeting on the 17th May, Councillor Lynne Hillan, Leader of Barnet Council, announced she was stepping down as Leader with immediate effect – but you all knew this! However, you may be interested in reading her resignation letter which was read out in full at the meeting.
The Chief Executive of the Council read out the following statement from Cllr Hillan.
“As many of you will know I have been receiving treatment for cancer for some time. Over recent weeks my condition has worsened and I have had to reconsider my role in the Leadership of the council.
“Each and every day I have represented the people of Barnet as a councillor has been a great privilege and I feel particularly honoured to have served as Leader over the last year and a half. Rather to my surprise, I have also enjoyed it.
“The last few decades have seen dramatic changes in the borough, particularly with Barnet becoming a far more family orientated place. I’ve seen these changes in my own street. In part this is down to the work the council has done in supporting its residents, particularly through our excellent schools.
“When I first took up my post as Cabinet member in children’s service we had 11 schools deemed inadequate by Ofsted. During my time in the council we have developed the best state schools in London and I was thrilled that during my Leadership the children’s service received the highest possible rating from Ofsted. And having fought to keep special schools open at a time when other councils were closing theirs, I am delighted that all of our special schools have during the last year been rated as outstanding.
“It’s a sign of how well the council now serves its residents that I can also look back on my time as Leader and see that adults social services – the portfolio for which I have greatest affection – also received the highest possible rating from its regulator.
“During my time as Leader I have seen Barnet Council find its place firmly on the national stage. We have a reputation as a pioneering and innovative council, not afraid to challenge the status quo or push the boundaries.
“We have paved the way for national pilots such as Right to Control and community budgets and we have constantly looked at new ways to involve residents in the running of their services.
“This has not just been down to the willingness of the council to put its residents at the heart of everything we do. It is because Barnet is a place where community really matters, where people care for their neighbours and where there is already a Big Society. In some ways I feel the national mood is catching up with Barnet, rather than the other way round.
“My son Ben constantly complains that I and my friends talk about nothing other than politics. And I’m afraid I can’t think of any time when this has been more true than over the last 12 months when we have worked to establish a three year budget that leaves us well prepared to face the future.
“I am proud that we’ve been able to set a budget that will continue to protect services for those who most need the council’s help and support.
“As one might expect, the people of Barnet have understood the challenge we face and our budget meeting, the last I have been able to attend as Leader, took place without the histrionics we saw in some other places.
“I know we have got a very strong Cabinet and my colleagues will be more than able to provide the Leadership the council will need over the coming years.
“I am immensely grateful for the advice and support that Cabinet and group colleagues have given me during my Leadership.
“I am sure that the manifesto on which we ran and won in the last local elections will provide a clear agenda for the borough in the future.
“There has been a growth in cynicism about politicians and their aims. But I have been proud to have worked with both colleagues and opponents who have a deep commitment to public service and an ambition to better the lot of all of Barnet’s residents.
“In all my time at the council I hope you will agree I have been a fighter; fighting for my ward, fighting for better services for residents and fighting for a better deal for Barnet.
“I now have other, more personal battles to fight, and I cannot fight these while holding the responsibilities that Leadership of the Council brings. I am therefore announcing that I am standing down as Leader of the Council.
“I wish you well.”
The caretaker, Councillor Andrew Harper (current Deputy Leader) will look after matters until a new leader is elected.