‘Right decision’: Hackney Mayor’s resignation met with mixed reaction

Mayor Philip Glanville. Photograph: Hackney Council

The resignation of Hackney’s Mayor has been met with mixed feelings, with some praising his “outstanding leadership” and others calling for the role to be scrapped entirely.

Philip Glanville’s decision to quit ended weeks of speculation from Town Hall watchers and Labour party insiders.

He became a casualty of the Tom Dewey scandal after it emerged he had partied with the disgraced former councillor on the same day the then mayor was told of a police investigation into Dewey.

He had earlier said that he did not speak to Dewey after finding out about his arrest.

Last month, 36-year-old Dewey was handed a one-year suspended sentence after admitting five charges of possessing indecent images of children.

In his resignation letter, Glanville said not cancelling the party was an “error of personal judgement”.

He said he was “deeply shocked and personally devastated to be told that someone I thought I knew was under investigation”.

Hackney Labour welcomed Glanville’s apology and resignation.

In a statement, the local party said: “Phil Glanville has worked hard for Hackney over many years and the borough has reaped the benefits of his work ethic, vision and charisma and we believe that Hackney is a better place to live and work today than it was before his time in office.”

Labour had already suspended Glanville from the party.

Angry members claim the party kept them in the dark about the police investigation into Dewey and feel the matter has been handled badly.

Hackney Greens said: “We thank Philip Glanville for doing the right thing and stepping down for the sake of the council and the residents it serves.

“Hackney Greens recognise his 17 years of service and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

They said: “With members of all parties and the wider community, and in the interest of full transparency, we continue to call for an independent investigation into who knew what and when around the arrest of Thomas Dewey, and what actions were taken as a result, both within the Labour Party and the council.”

They added: “This has been a distressing and uncertain period for residents and council staff, who have felt let down by the Labour mayor’s actions.”

Glanville critic Clair Battaglino suggested that the office of directly elected mayor should be scrapped altogether.

She introduced speakers at a Town Hall protest earlier this month, attended by an estimated 40 to 50 people, including critics of the borough’s low traffic neighbourhoods.

She said: “We must learn from this. Until such time that the position is abolished, we must have at the helm a mayor of community unity.”

The largest opposition party on the council, the Conservative group, has been approached for comment.

Other residents and community leaders paid tribute to Glanville.

Nick Perry, from the Hackney Society, tweeted: “You did a great, collegiate, and thoughtful job. I know it must have been a difficult and very personal decision, but I think it the right one, not least for your own long-term state of mind. You leave the mayoralty of Hackney with a lot of goodwill, I think.”

Hackney Cycling Campaign’s Will Petty told Glanville: “Thank you for your tireless work for Hackney – we’ve been so lucky to have you. I can’t imagine a more knowledgeable and responsive mayor.”

Former Labour councillor Vincent Stops, who chaired the planning committee for 15 years, said Glanville “has really served the borough”.

He commented: “The recent crisis that engulfed Phil were due to the crimes of another. The circumstances of his handling of this are unknown to me.

“I hope Phil will look back with pride on the difference he made to the borough and his leadership of the Labour administration during his mayoralty, particularly in delivering day to day services for those that needed them most.”

He praised Glanville for bringing some services in house and said his legacy would include building more homes, ranging from Frampton Park to estate regeneration schemes like Kings Crescent.

“Phil’s passion has been housing and regeneration of the built environment,” he said.

“The establishment of a capability within the council to build homes once again must be one of his legacies. Phil has been determined to build housing and to build the best quality design.”

Other achievements include a commitment to social justice, said Stops.

“I believe he saw the Black Lives Matter movement as an opportunity to right some deeply engrained wrongs. He has taken on, head on, some of the prejudices of ‘stop and search’.

“He didn’t have to commemorate the Windrush generation as he did with those two fabulous works of art in Hackney Central, but he did. And the statement that makes will be there for all time.”

He said the mayor also reacted to the challenge of climate change and was “absolutely determined to make a real difference”.

Stops also praised Glanville’s “tremendous leadership role” during the pandemic.

He said: “When we were all hunkered down at home, he was working out there and ensuring those that needed help most got it.”

The mayor’s resignation after seven years in the top job will trigger a by-election this autumn.

His last day in the role is Friday.