Peter John has described Labour’s ten years in power at Tooley Street as a ‘decade of delivery’ despite ‘unprecedented cuts’ and ‘tough economic circumstances’.
As the News has reported, on Wednesday night (February 26), Cllr John told Southwark Labour Group, and the full council assembly, that he was stepping down after ten years at the helm.
He has now confirmed his last day will be Wednesday, March 25, at the next council assembly, when the new leader will be elected.
The News understands housing cabinet member Kieron Williams and Johnson Situ; who holds the planning portfolio, are early runners.
In his resignation letter, John has positioned his legacy as one of navigating central government cuts whilst pushing forward an ambitious programme of growth and “major investment in every community.”
“From Blackfriars to Canada Water; Peckham to Elephant and Castle; Bermondsey to Old Kent Road; and London Bridge to Camberwell, that investment has brought 15,000 new homes; over 40,000 new jobs; over 5,000 new apprenticeships which we have helped to create as a council, and millions of square feet of new office and leisure space,” he said.
Southwark Council’s chief executive, Eleanor Kelly, described him as ‘an amazing leader’ and working alongside him as an ‘absolute honour’.
“Together, and with the support of our fantastic officers, councillors and partners, we have taken Southwark on an exciting journey over the last decade, truly transforming our borough into a great place to live, work or visit,” she said.
“On behalf of the whole council I wish Peter every success in whatever he does next.
“We will miss him but I know that the council will continue on our shared mission to deliver the very best and a fairer future for all Southwark residents.”
Southwark has had a frontline champion in @peterjohn6 defending local people from national Government cuts and building a positive legacy for @SouthwarkLabour with a personal #DecadeofDelivery https://t.co/gVaBEglCUW
— Neil Coyle (@coyleneil) February 27, 2020
Cllr Peter John @peterjohn6 has a fantastic record as leader of @SouthwarkLabour – one of @uklabour’s very best. Good luck and thanks for everything you’ve done from all at @LGA_Labour https://t.co/udRuT5ER8a
— LGA Labour (@LGA_Labour) February 26, 2020
Thank you for your tremendous years of leadership in the cause of all the people & communities of @lb_southwark & for your outstanding determination to make our borough a fairer more equal place for all to prosper. https://t.co/tSVOOyP9ss
— Harriet Harman (@HarrietHarman) February 26, 2020
Peter John’s resignation letter in full
“This evening I announced at our council assembly meeting that after ten years as leader of Southwark Council, and sixteenyears as Leader of Southwark Labour Group, I will be stepping down on March 25, 2020. It has been a great privilege to lead the council over this period, in what has been an extraordinary decade of delivery.
“When I became council leader in 2010 I was determined that no resident should be left behind, and that everybody – whatever your age or background – should be able to benefit and take advantage of the changes and opportunities we were determined to create.
“I also said that Southwark was ‘open for business’, and in spite of unprecedented cuts to our budget by government and tough economic circumstances we have managed to deliver positive growth and change across the borough – with major investment in every community.
“From Blackfriars to Canada Water; Peckham to Elephant and Castle; Bermondsey to Old Kent Road; and London Bridge to Camberwell, that investment has brought 15,000 new homes; over 40,000 new jobs; over 5,000 new apprenticeships which we have helped to create as a council, and millions of square feet of new office and leisure space.
“At the same time we have been able to deliver flagship policies with the introduction of Free Healthy School Meals for all primary school children; free swim and gym use for all residents; scholarships paying the university tuition fees for over 100 young people from low income backgrounds; pioneering the London Living Wage and the Ethical Care Charter; our commitment to meet the needs of 100% of children and young people with a mental health challenge; our ongoing support for widening the opportunities to enjoy culture and the arts and our work putting public health and social regeneration at the heart of all that we do as a council. The schools in our borough regularly out-perform the London and National averages, and our voluntary sector is thriving.
“The past decade has seen us face huge challenges as a council – from riots to floods to terror attacks. These events have scarred individuals and communities, but they have also demonstrated the amazing resilience and support we have been able to offer each other as residents of Southwark.
“Our decade of delivery would not have been possible without the support of fellow councillors, an amazing team of officers, and friends and partners right across Southwark and London. I have always believed that we work best as a team, and that together we share responsibility for our successes and any failure. Thank you for your part in helping to make Southwark such a borough of hope and opportunity.
“Since 2010 we have also kept winning more council seats at each of the local elections. I firmly believe that our commitment to deliver a fairer future for all our residents has been the right formula – demonstrating that a bold and well-run council informed by our values and aspirational for our communities and residents is politically popular.
“Over the past two years as chair of London Councils it has been an honour to represent all of London’s 33 local authorities, and to work with mayor Sadiq Khan to make the case for our great city. My Deputy, cllr Georgia Gould of Camden, will be the acting chair until London Councils AGM in June.
A new leader of Southwark Council will be elected on March 25. Until then I look forward to carrying on working with you and saying a personal ‘thank you’ to as many of you as possible.