Time's up: Why Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts needs to stand down amid fresh allegations

This Is Local London: Councillor Chris Roberts has faced six months of astonishing allegations Councillor Chris Roberts has faced six months of astonishing allegations

NEWS Shopper is calling for Greenwich Council's leader to stand down NOW following yet more allegations about his conduct.

This year, we have reported on a string of disgraceful incidents under Councillor Chris Roberts' leadership - from allegations of bullying within his Labour group, to a "personal vendetta" that is stopping Greenwich cyclists benefiting from millions of pounds of funding.

Councillor Roberts is due to stand down as leader at next May's election, but we say that is eight months too long - the council is already becoming a laughing stock.

Greenwich deserves to be led by someone whose priority is its residents rather than political games, self-promotion and personal feuds.

In fresh claims made by axed Greenwich Time journalist Peter Cordwell, it is said that staff on the local authority paper were told to airbrush out a picture of Councillor John Fahy shortly after he challenged Cllr Roberts for the leadership of the council last year.

He was then effectively banned from the paper for up to 12 months.

The claims have been denied by Greenwich Council which says they are "unfounded" and do not "stack up".

But Mr Cordwell - who is applying for an employment tribunal after he lost his job for writing a letter to the local paper about Lewisham Hospital - said: "It was just the normal spite that's part of the bullying culture that was prevailing at the time and no doubt still is.

"Obviously Cllr Fahy had stood against him in the leadership battle so, to me and the rest of the staff, it was just a typically nasty piece of work by Cllr Roberts."

The claims refer to a period where Cllr Fahy, after failing in his leadership bid, lost the cabinet Olympic portfolio just months before the Games were due to begin, a decision Mr Cordwell branded "diabolical".

Before the May 1 issue where the airbrushing took place, Cllr Fahy appeared regularly in Greenwich Time. But in the following months there were no photos of him at all and just a handful of mentions.

A Greenwich Council spokesman said: "We completely deny this unfounded claim relating to an edition of the paper produced over a year ago.

"It simply does not stack up."

Would any other council put up with this?

Don't think he should go? Look at these stories from the past six months.

- In March, Labour's Councillor Alex Grant announced he would stand down, blaming a "culture of bullying" and "sinister threats". He said unpopular policies like campaigning for a Silvertown Tunnel were being imposed on members.

- The campaign to save Lewisham Hospital has been one of the biggest successes of the year. Cllr Roberts never muttered a word of support for it.

- The day after Lee Rigby was killed in Woolwich, the world's media gathered and the Prime Minister and Mayor of London visited. Councillor Roberts disappeared on a cabinet away day.

- Funding from cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan, who controls £900m, is "on hold" - because the council won't meet him due to his articles, many highly critical, about the borough.

- Greenwich was embarrassed on national TV in August, after Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick accused Cllr Roberts of "running away" from him in a report on zero hours contracts.

- Greenwich Time reporter Peter Cordwell was sacked for writing a letter to News Shopper. Another reporter was axed after wanting a union rep at a meeting with bosses.

- Cllr Roberts told Greenwich Time staff to replace a picture for schoolchildren with one of his own face, it was claimed last month.

Comments (10)

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9:38am Wed 2 Oct 13

Virtual-Monster says...

This snivelling weasel of a politician is an example of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Greenwich residents deserve better and the sooner Rancid Roberts disappears from our political landscape the better.
This snivelling weasel of a politician is an example of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Greenwich residents deserve better and the sooner Rancid Roberts disappears from our political landscape the better. Virtual-Monster
  • Score: 35

10:46am Wed 2 Oct 13

Thorgils says...

The double bins on Powis street offer recycling and normal rubbbish disposal. Watch the collection van operators dump everything in one container. Chris Roberts eventually replied to our question about this fake recycling scheme, saying without explanation that this is not a fake but offers people `choice`. This is a classic example of council newspeak, the window-dressing language of an administration dependent on a fake self-image and fake definitions of real problems. Cllr Roberts is one of these problems.
The double bins on Powis street offer recycling and normal rubbbish disposal. Watch the collection van operators dump everything in one container. Chris Roberts eventually replied to our question about this fake recycling scheme, saying without explanation that this is not a fake but offers people `choice`. This is a classic example of council newspeak, the window-dressing language of an administration dependent on a fake self-image and fake definitions of real problems. Cllr Roberts is one of these problems. Thorgils
  • Score: 25

1:05pm Wed 2 Oct 13

tomtom71 says...

To call this man a weasel would be an insult to our furry friends. This is a mam who throws keys at cleaners if they disturb them. This is a man who shouted at a wedding party in the Town Hall for making too much noise. This is a man who regularly stropped out of meetings if anyone disagreed with him. Greenwich Council has an endemic bullying culture where senior officers turn a blind eye to the antics of Cllr Roberts. Staff are sacked, or paid off, to get them out of the way . There is a large degree of truth in what has been said above. Cllr Roberts had to be in every edition of Pravda, sorry Greenwich Time, and regularly demanded that photos be cropped or air brushed to remove people he didn't like. Unfortunately senior officers and councillors at Greenwich lack a backbone and allowed this farce to continue far too long. If I l still lived there I would be genuinely embarrassed.
To call this man a weasel would be an insult to our furry friends. This is a mam who throws keys at cleaners if they disturb them. This is a man who shouted at a wedding party in the Town Hall for making too much noise. This is a man who regularly stropped out of meetings if anyone disagreed with him. Greenwich Council has an endemic bullying culture where senior officers turn a blind eye to the antics of Cllr Roberts. Staff are sacked, or paid off, to get them out of the way . There is a large degree of truth in what has been said above. Cllr Roberts had to be in every edition of Pravda, sorry Greenwich Time, and regularly demanded that photos be cropped or air brushed to remove people he didn't like. Unfortunately senior officers and councillors at Greenwich lack a backbone and allowed this farce to continue far too long. If I l still lived there I would be genuinely embarrassed. tomtom71
  • Score: 31

4:55pm Wed 2 Oct 13

Womblingbarnacle says...

Under him too many areas have gone to the dogs - Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Charlton etc - while he focuses on select areas such as Woolwich, so he can look the big man and cut ribbons and get his face in his own newspaper. Get rid.
Under him too many areas have gone to the dogs - Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Charlton etc - while he focuses on select areas such as Woolwich, so he can look the big man and cut ribbons and get his face in his own newspaper. Get rid. Womblingbarnacle
  • Score: 18

6:44pm Wed 2 Oct 13

Suzanne M says...

It isn't just Roberts who should go, but every single councillor or council officer who colluded or connived, by answering the public's questions with evasive babble, or by not asking questions themselves, or by hiding information that the public had a right to know, or by making decisions without genuine consultation. Public servants have a duty to stand up to the kind of bullying described in this article, even though it is hard to do.
It isn't just Roberts who should go, but every single councillor or council officer who colluded or connived, by answering the public's questions with evasive babble, or by not asking questions themselves, or by hiding information that the public had a right to know, or by making decisions without genuine consultation. Public servants have a duty to stand up to the kind of bullying described in this article, even though it is hard to do. Suzanne M
  • Score: 22

7:35pm Wed 2 Oct 13

JoeBlobbs says...

Another councillor whose ego is greater than his ability to perform the civic duties the role requires.

I would relish the chance to discuss in an open forum his suitability for the position in light of these allegations.

If you are reading this Councillor Smug please take your head from out of your 'arris and do the right thing. You have no respect from those you are supposed to represent and even the local media are making you look a right mug. Go now, back to obscurity and let someone decent have a go.
Another councillor whose ego is greater than his ability to perform the civic duties the role requires. I would relish the chance to discuss in an open forum his suitability for the position in light of these allegations. If you are reading this Councillor Smug please take your head from out of your 'arris and do the right thing. You have no respect from those you are supposed to represent and even the local media are making you look a right mug. Go now, back to obscurity and let someone decent have a go. JoeBlobbs
  • Score: 19

8:38pm Wed 2 Oct 13

j.j. says...

Roberts must not be pushed out. Instead, a proper investigation into his and his cronies conduct should be carried out. He is a prime example of democracy gone wrong and we - the whole country, not just Greenwich - should learn about this and from this. He should also answer publicly questions about the council's strategy, eg. why are certain parts of the borough and certain kinds of residents clearly favored over others.
Roberts must not be pushed out. Instead, a proper investigation into his and his cronies conduct should be carried out. He is a prime example of democracy gone wrong and we - the whole country, not just Greenwich - should learn about this and from this. He should also answer publicly questions about the council's strategy, eg. why are certain parts of the borough and certain kinds of residents clearly favored over others. j.j.
  • Score: 28

4:53am Thu 3 Oct 13

ukiptowin15 says...

I have put myself forward to stand as a councillor for ukip for Glyndon Ward in 2014. I am a people person. Love to get things done and transform the area. I am well mannered patient and will deliver policies
I have put myself forward to stand as a councillor for ukip for Glyndon Ward in 2014. I am a people person. Love to get things done and transform the area. I am well mannered patient and will deliver policies ukiptowin15
  • Score: 122

9:18am Thu 3 Oct 13

JoeBlobbs says...

j.j. wrote:
Roberts must not be pushed out. Instead, a proper investigation into his and his cronies conduct should be carried out. He is a prime example of democracy gone wrong and we - the whole country, not just Greenwich - should learn about this and from this. He should also answer publicly questions about the council's strategy, eg. why are certain parts of the borough and certain kinds of residents clearly favored over others.
If there were any indication of unlawful behaviour from the councillor then yes, hold an investigation into his dealings with the hope he could face some criminal charges.

Alas though, I would imagine he is guilty of nothing more than being a smarmy, egotistical, power crazed bully who I wouldnt ask to run an errand, never mind a council.

The offer is there councillor if you would like to discuss this in an open forum. I can always find the time to embarrass people like you in public although the fact you could never have me sacked for standing up to you removes an advantage and you don't seem the type who enjoys a level playing field.
[quote][p][bold]j.j.[/bold] wrote: Roberts must not be pushed out. Instead, a proper investigation into his and his cronies conduct should be carried out. He is a prime example of democracy gone wrong and we - the whole country, not just Greenwich - should learn about this and from this. He should also answer publicly questions about the council's strategy, eg. why are certain parts of the borough and certain kinds of residents clearly favored over others.[/p][/quote]If there were any indication of unlawful behaviour from the councillor then yes, hold an investigation into his dealings with the hope he could face some criminal charges. Alas though, I would imagine he is guilty of nothing more than being a smarmy, egotistical, power crazed bully who I wouldnt ask to run an errand, never mind a council. The offer is there councillor if you would like to discuss this in an open forum. I can always find the time to embarrass people like you in public although the fact you could never have me sacked for standing up to you removes an advantage and you don't seem the type who enjoys a level playing field. JoeBlobbs
  • Score: 13

1:10pm Thu 3 Oct 13

tomtom71 says...

The irony is that the Chief Executive is probably whispering in his ear right now. 'Don't worry Chris, everything will be ok' whilst the Propaganda Department, sorry Communications, adds our names to the list of undesirables. Having seen first hand the way in which they try to cover up for his tantrums and bullying it is no surprise he has lasted this long. He is incapable of engaging in a structure debate, it is his way or no way, as demonstrated by the amount of meetings he has walked out of. The list of ego projects in vast. The Mitre Passage building on the Peninsula for example where he has his second, or third possibly, office, Two floors of offices less than 50% full and the taxpayers are paying for it. I agree with the comment above in that the whole lot are rotten.
The irony is that the Chief Executive is probably whispering in his ear right now. 'Don't worry Chris, everything will be ok' whilst the Propaganda Department, sorry Communications, adds our names to the list of undesirables. Having seen first hand the way in which they try to cover up for his tantrums and bullying it is no surprise he has lasted this long. He is incapable of engaging in a structure debate, it is his way or no way, as demonstrated by the amount of meetings he has walked out of. The list of ego projects in vast. The Mitre Passage building on the Peninsula for example where he has his second, or third possibly, office, Two floors of offices less than 50% full and the taxpayers are paying for it. I agree with the comment above in that the whole lot are rotten. tomtom71
  • Score: 8

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