New top team appointed at Haringey Council

Fresh-look cabinet to support new council leader Peray Ahmet, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The new Haringey Council cabinet team (credit David Mirzoeff)

Sweeping changes at Haringey Council’s top table have seen all but one of the previous cabinet members depart for the back benches.

The shake-up saw seven fresh faces appointed to key roles by new leader Peray Ahmet, who was elected at the annual general meeting of the council last week.

West Green councillor Seema Chandwani, who is cabinet member for customer service, welfare and the public realm, was the only councillor from ex-leader Joseph Ejiofor’s inner circle to keep her seat at the top table.

The changes saw the return of Harringay councillor Zena Brabazon, who has been handed the early years, children and families portfolio.

Cllr Brabazon was sacked from cabinet twice by Cllr Ejiofor. The first dismissal came on New Year’s Eve 2018 – but Cllr Brabazon returned as deputy leader five months later after being elected to the position by members of the Labour group.

A year later, she was sacked from her position as cabinet member for children, education and families following a child protection case in which the council was heavily criticised by a High Court judge.

At the time, Cllr Ejiofor said he needed to be kept “fully informed” about child safeguarding matters. In response, Cllr Brabazon said she would “always put the needs of children first” and ensure their confidentiality and rights were preserved and respected.

Cllrs Chandwani and Brabazon are joined at the top table by former backbenchers Mike Hakata (St Ann’s), John Bevan (Northumberland Park), Lucia das Neves (Woodside), Julie Davies (St Ann’s), Isidoros Diakides (Tottenham Green) and Ruth Gordon (Tottenham Hale).

During the meeting, Liberal Democrat opposition leader Luke Cawley-Harrison criticised the removal of the local investment and economic growth portfolio, saying businesses “need the support of this council more than ever” following the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Cllr Ahmet said she was “fully sympathetic to small business owners all over the borough”, adding that Cllrs Gordon and Davies would pick up some of the responsibilities of the previous portfolio holder.

The full list of the new cabinet positions is as follows:

  • Leader – Peray Ahmet
  • Cabinet member for environment, transport and the climate emergency and deputy leader of the council –Mike Hakata
  • Cabinet member for planning, licensing and housing services – John Bevan
  • Cabinet member for early years, children and families – Zena Brabazon
  • Cabinet member for customer service, welfare and the public realm – Seema Chandwani
  • Cabinet member for health, social care and well-being – Lucia Das Neves
  • Cabinet member for employment, skills and corporate services – Julie Davies
  • Cabinet member for finance and transformation – Isidoros Diakides
  • Cabinet member for housebuilding, place-making and development – Ruth Gordon