IslingtonTribune

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Outgoing councillor says there’s a case for reform

11 May, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Parting words from Richard Greening at his party

THE Town Hall would be a better place with more opposition councillors, according to one of the longest serving councillors who stepped down this election.

Richard Greening, 61, said having a “balance” between parties worked well in previous administrations as everybody had to keep “on the ball”.

Mr Greening served as councillor for 24 years before deciding not to contest last Thursday’s local election, which saw Labour retain their 47 seats out of 48.
Mr Greening, who served Highbury West ward, said: “I think councils are better when the number of councillors broadly reflects the votes.

“But that’s the problem with first past the post [voting system] – the council is better when you do have opposition group to some extent and I think there’s a case for some type of reform – almost the way the Greater London Assembly works.

Richard Greening served as councillor for 24 years

“It’s difficult for one person to carry what’s quite a big load. Maybe it could be looked at doing two seats by FPTP and the rest on a proportional representation basis.”

To commemorate him standing down, a party was held this weekend attended by Labour leader and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn and previous Islington Council leaders.

Mr Greening first stood as a councillor in 1994, when he had concerns about the Town Hall finances.

Three years after being elected to then Gillespie ward – this changed in a boundary review to Highbury West – he brought forward a significant motion to separate the housing and social care departments which had been united in the 1980s as the Neighbourhood Services.

“It was a hugely messy process but it was the right thing to do,” Mr Greening said.

He also served as the cabinet member for finance and was mayor of Islington in 2015.

On his decision to not contest this year, Mr Greening said: “It was something I really enjoyed and I learnt so much.

“I’ve spent a long time doing it, it’s perhaps time for others to do it.”

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