Labour’s Caroline Woodley elected as Mayor of Hackney

The newly elected Mayor of Hackney Caroline Woodley. Photograph: Julia Gregory

Labour has kept control of the mayoralty in Hackney in a by-election that saw just a fifth of voters turn out.

Caroline Woodley, previously the cabinet member for families, parks and leisure, becomes the borough’s third Labour mayor.

She won 18,474 of a total of 37,289 votes, and is the first woman to land the top job.

However, the number of votes for Labour is a stark drop on the 36,049 that saw previous incumbent Philip Glanville re-elected last year.

Speaking after the result, Mayor Woodley said: “I can’t wait to get back into the Town Hall.

“We have a lot of work to do here to maintain a well-run council and I’m really looking forward to getting on with the job.”

She said her first day as mayor will include asking cabinet colleagues “about the policies we need to put in place in order to meet our commitments for the 1,000 council homes, to running a well-run council, to ensuring we have cleaner streets, to make it greener and safer”.

She pledged to ensure Hackney is “anti-racist, inclusive, welcoming, kind and open – a place where you can be who you are, a place for us all”.

Runner-up Zoë Garbett. Photograph: Julia Gregory

Runner-up, Green candidate Zoë Garbett, said she was delighted to increase her party’s share of the vote from 17 per cent last year to 24 per cent in this election.

She told the new mayor: “It’s up to you to rebuild the trust between the residents and the council.”

Garbett added: “The main things we picked up on the doorstep and in hustings was that residents really don’t feel listened to. ”

She said it was important to “change the relationships between residents and the council, respecting them as experts in their own lives”.

The only other candidate who attended the count, Independent Peter Smorthit, said the low turnout of 20 per cent showed “a lot of people are not feeling listened to”.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Philip Glanville, who quit after what he described as an “error of judgement”.

He was suspended by Labour for misleading comments about when he cut links with disgraced ex-councillor Tom Dewey, who is serving a 12-month suspended sentence for downloading 1,850 indecent images of children.

Woodley has spoken of her horror at learning of “Dewey’s abhorrent crimes”.

Some Labour activists have been so upset by the scandal and the way the party handled it that they declined to canvas this year, and some said they were voting Green instead.

The council has announced an independent review into how it handled the scandal.

Labour came under fire during the election campaign when Woodley declined to attend any of the advertised hustings, preferring to stick to doorstep campaigning instead.

She has pledged to work with campaigners who want to see more council homes built on the prime Morning Lane site in Hackney Central.

Other aims include extending nature conservation projects, a nature recovery project in response to the climate emergency, and working with residents who are involved in green schemes, and investing in green skills.

She has also vowed to challenge police in the wake of the Child Q scandal that saw a Black teenager strip-searched at school.

The full results are: Simon de Deney, Liberal Democrats, 1,879; Zoë Garbett, Green, 9,075; Peter Smorthit, Independent, 1,382; Simche Steinberger, Conservatives, 5,039; and Annoesjka Valent, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), 1,265; Caroline Woodley, Labour, 18,474.

Update: this article was amended at 5.06pm on 10 November 2023. It originally stated, incorrectly, that this is the first time that Labour has won less than 50 per cent of the vote since mayoral elections began in Hackney. The party also won less than 50 per cent of the vote in the 2002 and 2006 mayoral elections.