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‘Cuts led me to call it a day at the Town Hall’

Former Labour councillor who decided not to stand in local election reveals he has been diagnosed with cancer

07 May, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Gary Doolan: ‘The cuts have got to the stage where I do not enjoy it anymore… I do not want to make things worse’

A STALWART Labour councillor who stood down before last week’s election said he was sick of watching the Town Hall budget shrink, adding that he did not get into politics to “negotiate cuts”.

Gary Doolan, councillor in St Peter’s ward from 2006, also revealed that he has been diagnosed with cancer.

Mr Doolan, who works for the GMB union, is remaining positive about his health, but with that and government cuts to council funding, he decided not to contest the election.

The Town Hall says that, since 2010, it has had more than half of its core funding cut by central government.

Mr Doolan now intends to put his campaigning roots back into the community to help propel residents’ voices into the Town Hall.

He said as Islington went to the polls on Thursday: “The cuts have got to the stage where I do not enjoy it anymore. My job as a councillor is not to negotiate cuts, it’s to negotiate improvements.

“I do not want to make things worse. Having said that, Islington is one of the better councils to implement the cuts. They have looked at lots of different ways, rather than taking the straight line of cutting staff. They look outside the box.

“It’s a sad day for me. I love to be out there knocking on doors. I’m more of a community councillor, I do not deal with bureaucracy. Councils and MPs have to realise they are there to serve the public and not rule them.”

Mr Doolan, a former caretaker on the Cluse Court estate, became a councillor 12 years ago determined to make a difference in the face of what he claimed were Lib Dem moves to privatise council services.

In the last decade, Mr Doolan believes “community cohesion” has vanished from Islington. He pledges to help rectify that outside the Town Hall.

“Ideally, I would like to help the community to get together so they can speak with their own voices,” he said. “I’ve got a few projects planned, but mainly I want to get people in the position where they get into some kind of leadership, and get community groups together and operate all as one.

“I can assure you I will hold councillors to account. If they do step outside the line and are upsetting people, they will get the other end of me.”

On the internal politics of the Labour Party, particularly the rise of Momentum, Mr Doolan said: “I’m still Labour through and through. But over the split – where some favour Momentum or the [Parliamentary Labour Party] – that’s not me. For me, it’s what’s right for the people where I live.”

Mr Doolan now plans to spend more time with his family as he battles cancer.

He was diagnosed in 2016 with throat cancer, which has since spread to his chest, but his condition is stable.

“Everyone knows what I’m like: ‘If anyone is going to beat it, Gary, it will be you’,” he said.

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