Revealed: Letters sent by Haringey Mayor that brought her office into disrepute (From Haringey Independent)
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Revealed: Letters sent by Haringey Mayor that brought her office into disrepute
The Mayor of Haringey abused her position by trying to gain priority treatment from a social services department at another local authority, the Haringey Independent can reveal.
Councillor Sheila Peacock was last month censured by an independent standards committee for "bringing the office of the mayor into disrepute" after she sent letters on council-headed paper from her mayoral email address to deal with a personal matter.
Details of the indiscretion were not made public, but the Haringey Independent submitted a Freedom of Information request and can now reveal the contents of the correspondence.
The Labour politician contacted the chief executives of Stevenage Borough Council and, later, Hertfordshire County Council, to try to exert influence over a family matter being dealt with by Hertfordshire’s social services department.
Cllr Peacock chased these letters up with subsequent emails to the personal assistant of Stevenage Council’s chief executive Nick Parry, all of which were signed off with her mayoral title.
In one reply, Mr Parry pointed the Northumberland Park councillor in the direction of Hertfordshire County Council, explaining that he could not help.
It is understood Stevenage Council then complained to Haringey Council about the mayor’s behaviour.
The Haringey Independent will not publish details of the family matter for reasons of sensitivity, but Mayor Peacock has admitted to the newspaper she was attempting to use her position as mayor to gain influence in the social services department.
She said this morning: “All of my family were trying to phone social services in Stevenage. We phoned them repeatedly but couldn’t get through, so I thought I’d send them an email to get them to listen because I was so upset. They still didn’t get back to me properly though.”
Asked if she felt she should be given priority over others in the same situation, she said: “I think it is dreadful that there are other people receiving the same level of service and in hindsight I regret it, but I was worried about my family.
“I’m not a bad person and I would do it differently if it happened again.”
Mayor Peacock was re-elected in Northumberland Park last week despite being “worried” about how last month’s controversy would affect her in the polls.
She will remain mayor until June 9, when her 12-month term comes to an end and she returns to her role as ward councillor.
She said: “I think when people hear about the situation, they will understand why I did it. I told my people in my ward and I received the highest number of votes, so they supported me regardless.”