A reshuffled cabinet has been passed at Greenwich Council despite complaints that the move was made with no explanation.

Deputy leader David Gardner will take on the new brief of “public realm” in the coming year, with his former portfolio of education being passed to community safety cabinet member Jackie Smith.

Averil Lekau’s portfolio has been stripped of the words “anti-poverty” and is now “health and adults social care”.

At the council’s annual meeting on Wednesday night, opposition councillors took aim at leader Dan Thorpe for not giving an explanation on the changes.


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Deputy Tory leader Nigel Fletcher said: “I think it is worth noticing that there are some significant changes that have been made without any justification or explanation from the leader.

“First of all, the deputy leader’s portfolio has completely changed. He’s been downgraded to a degree. Whilst it is welcome that we move the issue of public realm up the agenda, I am not sure making someone of Cllr Gardner’s undoubted ability the cabinet member for bollards is necessarily the best use of his talents.

“In making that change, the leader has also downgraded the deputy’s former responsibility, and given that to another cabinet member who already has a significant brief of her own.

“The issue of anti-poverty has completely vanished, what kind of message does that send out? We haven’t been told if it has been moved elsewhere or whether it remains with Cllr Lekau.

“It is very difficult to hold the administration to account when we are faced with unilateral decisions by the leader.”

Other cabinet posts remain unchanged, with councillors Kirby, James, Hyland, Grice, Scott-McDonald, and Williams all returning to their posts.


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Councillor Jackie Smith, who is taking on the tricky task of schools under the new title “children’s services and community safety”, said the leader is not required to explain himself to the opposition.

Cllr Smith said: “The leader, who can speak for himself, does not have to explain to you his rationale for changing portfolios. He does not have to do that. He has explained it to his group, that is enough.”

Opposition leader Matt Hartley disagreed, saying the public deserves an explanation.

Leader Dan Thorpe said: “Cllr Smith is right. This isn’t an interview with the leader, this is the formal appointment of the cabinet. We look forward as an executive team to being held to account for the decisions we have taken.

“Obviously I am bit worried to hear members refer to public realm as a demotion. To somehow suggest that it is a second-grade service or not as good is somehow missing the point.

“As a council, we have been on a massive journey to deal with anti-poverty and the challenges we have faced increasingly since 2010.

“We have the anti-poverty commission that set out recommendations we can take on to deal with challenges, that work has merged into a greater focus on social mobility.

“We have changed the focus and established a social mobility board that I will be chairing.”