Councillor Rex Osborn has been elected as the new leader of the Wandsworth Council Labour Group, taking over from Cllr Tony Belton, who is standing down from the post after reaching the milestone of 40 years as a councillor.
Rex has represented Graveney Ward in Tooting since 2006, and takes over his new role as Leader of the Group at the same time as the Wandsworth Conservatives have elected their first new leader in almost two decades.
Commenting on his election, Councillor Osborn said: “I take over as leader of the Labour Group at a crucial time. My job as leader of the opposition is to let the public know what their Council is doing – and to show that while they may be paying a low council tax, they are about to find that they are also getting the worst value.
“Wandsworth Council is facing the most severe cuts in its history – and the majority Conservative Party has already shown that it is more than willing to leave the most vulnerable in the Borough to bear the brunt of these cutbacks. We shall take the fight to the Tories, speak out against Conservative penny-pinching and heartless plans to attack the least well off in our communities. We will continue to work with local groups and residents on what matters – such as championing the right for all children to play free of charge in Wandsworth’s playgrounds, parks and open spaces.
“At a time like this, clear and courageous opposition is more important than ever – and as the Labour Group’s new Leader, I will ensure fairness and compassion are at the forefront in challenging everything Conservative Wandsworth tries to do.
“Over the last few weeks alone, in addition to proposals to start charging children to use playgrounds, the Conservative-led Council has announced cuts to the disabled children’s short breaks scheme – at the same time as investing over £14m in a new secondary school in one of the wealthiest areas of the Borough, for which there is no current need.”
Councillor Osborn takes over the leadership of the Labour Group from Councillor Belton, who has been a councillor since May 1971 and Labour Group Leader for 28 of his 40 years on the Council, including a short spell as leader of the Council in 1978.
Rex added: “Both the Labour Group and the residents of Wandsworth owe a great debt to Tony, who has given so much to the Borough over 40 years, and whose immense knowledge and experience will continue to be of huge value to the Labour Group.”
Councillor Osborn will formally take over the role of Leader of the Opposition at Wandsworth Council’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday evening.