Mayor of Newham replaces deputy and cabinet housing chief
PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 November 2020
The mayor has replaced a deputy mayor and cabinet member for housing.
The announcement came after Cllr John Gray said on Sunday, November 1 that he was quitting the roles in order to play an active part in the 2021 governance referendum campaign.
It comes at a time when the councillor was mentioned in a report into antisemitism in the Newham branch of the Labour Party.
Voters in Newham are due to go to the polls on May 6. They will decide between continuing with the current directly elected mayor form of governance or an alternative which would see the town hall run by committees made up of councillors.
In a statement, Cllr Gray, said: “After working as a councillor for over 10 years under two mayors I have come to the conclusion that [committees] is the right model for Newham.
“I therefore do not think it is appropriate for me to remain in the cabinet.”
Cllr Gray – who describes himself as a “proud member” of the Labour movement on the centre left of the party – continues to represent West Ham ward.
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Charlene McLean has been appointed statutory deputy mayor in addition to her existing role as lead member for resident engagement and participation.
Shaban Mohammed, who was Cllr Gray’s housing deputy, was named lead.
Rokhsana Fiaz said: “Congratulations to Cllrs McLean and Mohammed. At a time when we are dealing with the effects of the largest health crisis the world has ever faced, I am pleased to be working with a cabinet team so deeply committed to ensuring we seize every possible opportunity to move the borough forward.
“The scale of the challenge has never been greater. But together with my cabinet, which I’m proud is one of the most diverse in the country, I am leading a hugely ambitious programme that sets out how we will improve residents’ lives now and well beyond the pandemic.”
READ MORE: Leaked report alleges ‘culture of antisemitism’ in Newham Labour Party
A Newham Labour insider said Cllr Gray was aware there could be “potential future conflicts” between campaigning and his town hall roles.
However, former councillor Mike Law said: “It strikes me as odd that he accepted the role of deputy mayor, but now feels he wants to do away with the directly elected mayor.
“If that has always been his stance, why not campaign to do away with it from a position of integrity from the back benches?”
A source close to Cllr Gray said: “That may be a fair criticism, however, his feeling about the mayoral model was based on experiences under the previous mayor.”
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