Denise Scott-McDonald has been confirmed as Greenwich Council’s new deputy leader by one vote – just months after losing her place on the town hall’s ruling cabinet.
The Peninsula ward councillor, who is currently acting deputy leader, beat Averil Lekau, a former social care cabinet member, by 20 votes to 19 in an election held by Labour councillors last night – underscoring the continuing divisions within Greenwich Labour. Council leader Danny Thorpe won his position by just one vote in 2018 – also beating Lekau – although was re-elected more comfortably earlier this year.
Scott-McDonald, a close ally of council leader Danny Thorpe, is the cabinet member for economy and skills. She lost her place on the cabinet in March after a vote of Labour councillors, but was brought back by Thorpe after the death of Christine Grice, who had been elected deputy just a few weeks earlier.
She was previously cabinet member for transport and air quality, having to take responsibility for the council’s fudged position on mayor Sadiq Khan’s controversial Silvertown Tunnel. When questioned by members of the public, a nervous-looking Scott-McDonald often struggled, saved only by the Conservative opposition’s support for the scheme meaning they did not follow up residents’ questions. At a behind-closed-doors meeting last year, she voted against a Labour motion calling for the council to oppose the tunnel, months after associating herself with opposition to the tunnel in the council elections.
Scott-McDonald has also tried and failed to become Labour’s general election candidate for Cities of London & Westminster and Erith & Thamesmead.
Lekau’s defeat means she must stay on the back benches, away from the cabinet, which formally decides most council policies. In February a court heard that she had been linked with the leaking of an investigation into disgraced councillor Tonia Ashikodi’s property ownership to a left-wing website. Ashikodi, who was also an ally of Thorpe, later resigned after being given a suspended sentence for fraud.
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