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Council leader gets set to call it a day

PUBLISHED: 15:31 22 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:25 11 August 2010

Charles Fairbrass

Charles Fairbrass

COUNCIL Leader, Charles Fairbrass is to stand down as a councillor at the next election in 2010. The veteran member for Dagenham s Heath Ward has just completed his 10th year at the helm, and was re-elected for the 11th time last week. Speaking to the P

COUNCIL Leader, Charles Fairbrass is to stand down as a councillor at the next election in 2010.

The veteran member for Dagenham's Heath Ward has just completed his 10th year at the helm, and was re-elected for the 11th time last week.

Speaking to the POST in his Civic Centre office, Cllr Fairbrass said he was pleased with the progress made during his time in office.

But said he would not stand as a candidate at the next council elections due in May, 2010, but did not indicate whether he would step down as leader before that, adding he would need to talk to colleagues first.

He also threw his weight behind deputy leader Liam Smith as his preferred successor.

Cllr Fairbrass said: "By next election I will have done nearly 40 years as a councillor. I think I've done my turn.

"I would hope that Liam Smith takes over from me. He's got the experience, the dedication, and is well versed in politics. Above all, he's a very hard worker."

Mr Fairbrass took over as leader from George Brooker who retired in 1998.

Prior to that, he served as deputy leader of the council and long-standing chairman of the education committee.

He lists several highlights over the last ten years, chiefly the demolition of Barking's Linton's housing estate and the construction of Jo Richardson School, Dagenham.

"If I'm remembered for nothing else let it be Jo Richardson School" he said.

"It's a state-of-the-art building which was built on time and to budget. It's a major building that others are starting to copy."

At the last elections the British National Party won 12 council seats out of 13 contested.

But Mr Fairbrass insists this does not reflect on the council's performance, but rather the shortage of council housing created by the Right-To-Buy Act.

"Our housing stock has been diminished. Right to Buy and the income from it gave us the opportunity to improve schools and other services, but at the cost of losing some housing stock.

"We could have replaced some of it using some of that income but weren't allowed to.

Mr Fairbrass said that more outsiders were moving into the borough, but were not all getting council homes.

He said: "These people are moving here because we've got the cheapest housing in London. A lot of housing appears to belong to the council, but it doesn't.

"And If you've got good schools and public facilities people will want to move here."

He believes that a new local housing company, the first of its kind in Britain, will allow the Town Hall to address the problem.

The LHC will allow the council to build its own homes so it no longer has to go through housing associations.

He added: "It will take a while for our LHC to make an impact but it will" he said.


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