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Danny McCarthy deposed from Community Council chair

Borough & Bankside Community Council is to be chaired by Cllr Adele Morris following a Town Hall vote to remove Lib Dem-turned-independent Danny McCarthy from the chair.

Southwark councillors
Cllrs Danny McCarthy, Adele Morris, David Hubber, Linda Manchester, Peter John and John Friary

Earlier this month we reported that Southwark's ruling Lib Dem-Conservative coalition was planning to oust Cllr McCarthy from the position he has held since the community council system was established in 2003.

Borough and Bankside Community Council comprises the six councillors from Cathedrals and Chaucer wards.

Cllr McCarthy – a Cathedrals ward Lib Dem councillor since 2002 who had previously served in Liddle ward in the 1980s and 1990s as a Labour councillor before joining the Lib Dems in 1997 – quit the party last November.

There were rowdy scenes in the chamber at Southwark Town Hall at midnight on Wednesday night as Liberal Democrat whips David Hubber and Linda Manchester proposed a motion to remove Cllr McCarthy from the post of chair of Borough and Bankside Community Council.

Cllr Hubber was at pains to stress that "it is not done with any personal animosity to Cllr McCarthy", a sentiment echoed by Cllr Manchester.

He added: "The reality is that Cllr McCarthy is no longer a member of the largest party on Borough & Bankside Community Council," and pointed to the convention across the borough that the devolved meetings be chaired by a member of the largest party locally – ie Lib Dems in the north of the borough, Labour in Camberwell and the Conservatives in Dulwich.

Southwark Labour leader Peter John described the Lib Dem protestations that the motion wasn't motivated by a personal agenda as "a bit of a laugh". "It's a petty, spiteful and vindictive action by a petty, spiteful and vindictive party."

Cllr John Friary (Labour) also took issue with the claims made by Hubber and Manchester in the light of Lib Dem leader Nick Stanton's description of Cllr McCarthy as "a rat joining a sinking ship".

Cllr McCarthy himself said that he "found the whole episode rather disturbing" and in an emotional speech told the Council Assembly that he had been the victim of "vicious backstabbing" and "nasty backbiting attacks".

He also claimed publicly for the first time that he had submitted a resignation letter as early as 21 September 2006 but had been persuaded to withdraw it.

Cllr McCarthy said that the amount of support he had received from fellow councillors and constituents had been "astronomical".

He also reiterated his earlier call for Cllr Stanton to "do the honourable thing" and "resign ... I will as well".

The motion removing Cllr McCarthy from his post was passed by 30 votes to 2; the Labour Group abstained.

Cllr Adele Morris was elected as the new chair for the remainder of the municipal year.

Cllr Morris was elected to the council for the first time in May 2006 and is a well-known local figure through her work for a range of community organisations.

The chairs of Southwark's eight community councils each receive a special responsibility allowance of 8,421 in addition to their basic annual councillor's allowance of 9,963.

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