Council housing boss resigns after running anonymous Twitter account that harangued residents

Katherine Johnston (17 February, 2021)

'A serious error of judgement' - council leader Kieron Williams

42367Ex-housing chief Leo Pollak has resigned and offered a full apology

Housing cabinet member Leo Pollak has resigned from his post after it emerged he had been secretly running an anonymous Twitter account where he harangued activists and resident groups over planning and housing issues.

It is believed the account in question is the now-deleted ‘SouthwarkYIMBY’; a play on the ‘not in my back yard’ tag given to planning objectors.

The account’s author blasted community groups, including TRAs, who are challenging proposals to ‘infill’ their estates with new housing on communal green spaces.

In a series of tweets targeting a campaign run by Priory Court residents, the account blasted their concerns as ‘pathetic’, ‘shabby attempts to concoct an anti-infill movement’, and a ‘campaign of distortion’.

The News understands Cllr Pollak, who represents South Bermondsey ward, handed in his resignation  after queries to council leader Kieron Williams and Leo Pollak about the twitter account. He has now been relegated to the backbenches.

In his resignation letter, Pollak said: “It goes without saying that this represents a serious error of judgement that doesn’t meet the standards of openness and accountability that you would expect of a public representative, and I am writing to offer you all a full and unqualified apology.

“I have referred myself to the council’s monitoring officer and will accept any recommendations made.”

His boss, Cllr Williams, said: “Whilst it is right that Cllr Pollak has resigned following a serious error of judgement, we will miss his huge passion for improving the lives of everyone who lives in council housing.

“From driving forward our plan to build 11,000 new council homes, to championing local estates through our Great Estates programme, to campaigning tirelessly on issues like right to buy and land reform, Leo has worked relentlessly to improve the lives of our residents.

“However, in order to gain and retain our residents’ trust, it is essential that all politicians carry out their work in a completely transparent way.

“In this case, unfortunately Cllr Pollak’s behaviour risked compromising that trust, and that is why I have accepted his resignation as cabinet member for housing.”

Until a decision is made about his successor, Cllr Williams will be overseeing the housing portfolio, a role he held before becoming leader after the departure of Peter John.

A full investigation will now take place by the monitoring officer, whose findings will be shared publicly at a later date.

Southwark Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Nick Johnson described the account as a ‘major error of judgement’ and called on Cllr Pollak to resign as a councillor.

Contribute
Karen Connolly says:

Been going on years this practise of contempt towards its residents especially those question them in LBS with much effort and emphasis on Social Media campaigns now to sway influence or push for Campaigns to develop or demolish yet in the name of gain its Councillors are allowed to encouraged and go unchallenged just like it’s staff within being so derogatory as a statutory norm to the very residents they should be non bias or partisan representing and yes something seriously not right fair or just I’ve said it for years and really do they resign or just take a back seat with golden handshakes and will one fall Guy Councillor got caught change the mindset or behaviour institutionally inbred now LBS I doubt it so the people have too and it’s maybe at the ballot box a good start!

Mark says:

They’ve had a hand in littering our landscape with ever taller, high density housing mess. If Pollak doesn’t go, then Kieron Williams must go!

Peter S says:

This was not an error of judgment. It was a premeditated cynical attempt to run roughshod over the people he claimes to be working on behalf of.
It’s not a resigning matter, he should be sacked & banned from ever standing for election again.
It is a prime example of the cesspit that politics has become.

Nathan Beardsworth says:

I think both sides have a point. More housing is needed for those who need it. People talking of ‘littering the landscape’ are callously disregarding the urgent housing needs of many. but green space is so important for residents and costs to the quality of life of existing residents should be kept to a minimum. It’s pretty obvious that a balance is needed here. But he’s a clown for doing that on twitter

Bridget Furst says:

And now Pollak has been awarded a £5,000 golden goodbye. How totally disgusting.

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