Time's up: Why Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts needs to stand down amid fresh allegations (From This Is Local London)
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Time's up: Why Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts needs to stand down amid fresh 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.
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