After two months of pressure from Southwark's Labour Group and internal divisions within her own group on the subject, Cllr Denise Capstick, the Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, announced her resignation at the start of last night's Council Assembly following her conviction for drink driving in July. It is the right thing for her to have done and it is only disappointing that it has taken her such a long time, and the prospect of losing a vote calling on her to resign, for her to reach this inevitable decision.
Although Cllr Capstick has not been at her best with regard to this whole incident, the real failure lies with Council Leader Nick Stanton. It was he who said that he had "not considered for a minute" that she should resign, and sought to downplay her conviction on the basis that she had not crashed and no one had been injured. As I have spoken to people across Southwark about this incident, it is the words and actions of Cllr Stanton which have attracted the most anger. And I am informed that his Party Leaders at LibDem HQ have been far from impressed with his handling of Cllr Capstick's case - believing that he should have asked her to resign immediately.
It is not often that it is possible to highlight a clear decision made by a Council Leader and judge the merits of that decision. Normally decisions are taken by committees or larger bodies. But in this case we have been able to see Cllr Stanton's decision and consider his judgement. He has clearly failed to demonstrate leadership or judgement, and despite his best efforts Cllr Capstick has been forced from her job. I imagine that there are a number of LibDem councillors today who are wondering whether they are going to survive electorally in Southwark if they have to rely for much longer on the leadership and judgement of Cllr Stanton.