Prime Minister David Cameron joins others in commending Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s departing leader.
Prime Minister David Cameron is leading the tributes to Hammersmith and Fulham’s departing council leader.
Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, who has held the role since 2006, announced his intention to stand down from the post yesterday.
The shock announcement followed news that Hammersmith and Fulham Council are set to reduce council tax levels by 3.75% next year – the fifth cut in six years.
Cllr Greenhalgh, who will leave his position in six months time, has also overseen ambitious plans to halve a £176m debt within three years and Mr Cameron praised the former leader’s work.
He said: “Stephen Greenhalgh has demonstrated that good management and tackling waste can keep council tax bills down whilst protecting services.
“Conservative group leaders all over the country are emulating what Stephen has done in Hammersmith and Fulham.”
Mr Cameron added that adopting plans like Mr Greenhalgh’s has led to people in these areas paying lower than average tax prices, without reducing the quality of services provided.
This achievement was acknowledged by the Audit Commission’s award of a high score possible for that category.
Cllr Greenhalgh’s cost-cutting measures include shrinking the council’s accommodation footprint – a key contributor in attempts to ease the burden of the debt – and combining services and management costs with Westminster Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
During his five-year tenure, Hammersmith and Fulham Council picked up the Local Government Chronicle’s prestigious Council of the Year award in 2010 and his unique proposals made him a popular figure with residents, with 59% satisfied with their council’s work, according to a recent satisfaction survey.
The LGC also named him as the most inflential council leader in an April 2011 article but his approach was seen by some as controversial.
His decision to step down from the role means he will now focus on trying to involve local people in the decision-making and spending processes for public services such as unemployment, housing, education and crime.
Reflecting on his impending departure, he said: “I am immensely grateful for the energy and professionalism of my fellow councillors and staff in making possible such a radical transformation of the council over the last five years.
“We can be so proud of what we have achieved in becoming such an influential, trail blazing council. From cutting tax to paying off debt, to widening choice in schools and housing, from fighting crime to a cleaner environment we have blazed the trail.”
He added: “We have been the guiding star by which other councils seek to navigate. I am confident that our course is firmly established for the future.”
He confirmed that he will continue to serve as a councillor in the Town Ward, an area he has represented for 16 years.
Other national and local politicians have joined the Prime Minister in complimenting Mr Greenhalgh.
Mayor Boris Johnson commended him on his fantastic contribution over many years, while deputy council leader Nick Botterill paid tribute to his colleague’s tireless dedication and the part he played in lifting the spectre of debts for future generations.