Southwark Liberal Democrat leader Hamish McCallum has stood down as the party’s leader on the council, after the party lost three councillors in the local elections, earlier this month.
Cllr McCallum was elected leader only in late April last year. He will be replaced by Victor Chamberlain, a councillor for the Borough and Bankside ward who also works for Newham council’s affordable housing company.
Cllr Chamberlain will be focusing particularly on the environment, housing, customer service and LGBT rights, the Lib Dems said.
Cllr Chamberlain said that Labour were in “disarray” in London, citing the fact that local MP Neil Coyle recently had the whip suspended and south Bermondsey councillor Leo Pollak’s payout after he stepped down from running Southwark’s social housing, following the revelation that he was ‘trolling’ local residents online. But some onlookers and opponents in the borough will undoubtedly take the view that a party whose leader steps down after a year in office could also be seen as being in disarray.
Cllr Chamberlain said in a press release sent to the News to announce Cllr McCallum stepping down: “I am immensely proud to have this fantastic opportunity to lead Southwark’s hard-working and talented group of Liberal Democrat councillors after the elections.
“London is a liberal city and I will champion why the Southwark Liberal Democrats are the best placed to stand up and fight for local residents.
“We are up against a massive London Labour party machine. We must ensure there is a clear and strong opposition in Southwark particularly as Labour are in disarray. They have had to suspend the whip from one MP after an allegation of racism.
“They financially rewarded a disgraced councillor who resigned from a cabinet post after disrespecting residents online.
“This party refuses to listen to anyone, but its own circle. I am determined to ensure Labour pays attention to its residents. Southwark Liberal Democrats will continue to lead positive campaigns around the climate emergency, affordable housing and council services.”
The Lib Dems lost London Bridge and West Bermondsey ward in the local elections on May 5, which meant their seats on the council went down by three.