Senior Greenwich councillor Chris Kirby is to stand down from his town hall duties in the coming weeks to move out of London.
Kirby and his family are relocating from Shooters Hill to the Peak District, ending the cabinet member for finance’s six-year spell in local politics.
A close ally of council leader Danny Thorpe, Kirby, who was brought up in Bexleyheath, was an assistant to Eltham MP Clive Efford before being elected as a Shooters Hill councillor in 2014.
While cabinet member for housing, he began the Greenwich Builds programme to start work on 750 council homes by 2022, with 287 currently being built and 51 awaiting planning approval. The portfolio was given to Woolwich Common councillor Anthony Okereke last year.
Kirby has also been active on social media as a councillor – including criticising his own colleagues for pushing back on planning applications for new council homes in a since-deleted tweet.
His departure means a by-election in Shooters Hill to come on the same day as the mayoral election; currently due to be held in May but which could be moved because of the ongoing pandemic.
When polling day does come, it will mean Greenwich Labour having to fight at least three by-elections on one day, following Kirby’s departure: in Kidbrooke with Hornfair, following the death of Christine Grice; and in Glyndon, following the resignation of Tonia Ashikodi, convicted of housing fraud a year ago.
Another councillor is also preparing to stand down but has not made their decision public, 853 understands, which would lead to a fourth by-election on the same day.
“While I will miss being a councillor, I am very much looking forward to being able to spend more time with my two young girls,” Kirby said on social media.
“Sadly, this means that I will be unable to continue in my role as councillor for Shooters Hill Ward. I grew up in Bexleyheath with a view of the water tower out of my bedroom window – it is a community I have a great affinity with and I will miss it hugely.
“It remains unclear when we will be able to hold elections again, but I will be resigning my seat so that the by-election coincides with the mayoral elections, whenever they are held. Until that point I will continue to represent my residents to the best of my ability.”
He added: “It goes without saying that my priority in the coming weeks will be finalising our budget for the next financial year. I am absolutely determined that we deliver the fairest possible budget in spite of a decade of cuts from central government.”
Yesterday it was announced that neighbouring Lewisham is also losing one of its leading councillors. Joe Dromey, who represents New Cross and shares the role of its cabinet member for culture, is to join Central London Forward, a coalition of local councils.
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