Kieron Williams was elected as Southwark Labour Group’s new leader on Monday night with Jasmine Ali named as his deputy.
Both will be formally elected as leader, and deputy leader, of Southwark Council on Wednesday, September 16 – at the next full assembly.
A Labour and Co-operative ward councillor for Camberwell Green since 2014, Williams has held the housing management and modernisation portfolio since 2018 after a post-local election cabinet reshuffle.
Prior to that he headed up the jobs, skills, and employment department – effectively swapping roles with Stephanie Cryan. He has worked as a public health director and advisor to local authorities.
“Kieron will work tirelessly to continue building on a decade of delivery and improving the lives of all our residents despite these unprecedented and challenging times,” said outgoing leader Peter John.
Williams was congratulated by fellow cabinet members including Leo Pollak, the current new homes chief, who was ‘thrilled’ by the result.
“His commitment to reducing inequalities and empowering communities will be crucial as Southwark Council faces monumental economic, climate, housing and health challenges ahead,” Pollak said.
Throughout the pandemic, Williams urged the government to support private renters by extending the evictions ban, and was responsible for overseeing a huge effort to protect and house rough sleepers from across London.
Its success came despite a 45 per cent rise in homelessness approaches to Southwark Council at the start of the pandemic.
Ali, the new deputy leader, takes over from Rebecca Lury. The hitherto children, schools and adult care cabinet member is well known for her oratory skills.
Their first task will be appointing the new cabinet, which is expected to include some big changes.
Victoria Mills will no longer oversee the council’s finance, performance and Brexit portfolio after choosing to step down but remain a ward councillor.
Peter John announced his departure on February 26 and was due to leave in March but stayed on during the worst of the pandemic.
Those to throw their hats into the ring included cabinet members Johnson Situ, Stephanie Cryan and backbenchers Martin Seaton and Sunny Lambe.
Cllr Williams said: “It is an honour to be elected by the Labour Group as the next Leader of Southwark Council. Southwark is an amazing borough and I take immense pride in our incredible diversity and community spirit.
“Our community’s response to this pandemic has shown the strength and potential of the people of our borough. We face tough challenges, after a decade of Tory austerity and following the impact of COVID19 on health, jobs and businesses.
“However I’m determined to bring our community together to overcome them. I look forward to working with people from every part of Southwark to continue to build a better future for the people of our borough.
“I would like to thank Peter John for his leadership over the last sixteen years as Leader of Southwark Labour Group, and the last ten years as leader of the Council.
“I look forward to leading Southwark’s diverse and talented group of councillors and building on the great successes of the Labour Group over the last decade.”