Housing cabinet member Leo Pollak has resigned from his post after it emerged he had been secretly running an anonymous Twitter account where he harangued activists and resident groups over planning and housing issues.
It is believed the account in question is the now-deleted ‘SouthwarkYIMBY’; a play on the ‘not in my back yard’ tag given to planning objectors.
The account’s author blasted community groups, including TRAs, who are challenging proposals to ‘infill’ their estates with new housing on communal green spaces.
In a series of tweets targeting a campaign run by Priory Court residents, the account blasted their concerns as ‘pathetic’, ‘shabby attempts to concoct an anti-infill movement’, and a ‘campaign of distortion’.
The News understands Cllr Pollak, who represents South Bermondsey ward, handed in his resignation after queries to council leader Kieron Williams and Leo Pollak about the twitter account. He has now been relegated to the backbenches.
In his resignation letter, Pollak said: “It goes without saying that this represents a serious error of judgement that doesn’t meet the standards of openness and accountability that you would expect of a public representative, and I am writing to offer you all a full and unqualified apology.
“I have referred myself to the council’s monitoring officer and will accept any recommendations made.”
His boss, Cllr Williams, said: “Whilst it is right that Cllr Pollak has resigned following a serious error of judgement, we will miss his huge passion for improving the lives of everyone who lives in council housing.
“From driving forward our plan to build 11,000 new council homes, to championing local estates through our Great Estates programme, to campaigning tirelessly on issues like right to buy and land reform, Leo has worked relentlessly to improve the lives of our residents.
“However, in order to gain and retain our residents’ trust, it is essential that all politicians carry out their work in a completely transparent way.
“In this case, unfortunately Cllr Pollak’s behaviour risked compromising that trust, and that is why I have accepted his resignation as cabinet member for housing.”
Until a decision is made about his successor, Cllr Williams will be overseeing the housing portfolio, a role he held before becoming leader after the departure of Peter John.
A full investigation will now take place by the monitoring officer, whose findings will be shared publicly at a later date.
Southwark Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Nick Johnson described the account as a ‘major error of judgement’ and called on Cllr Pollak to resign as a councillor.