COUNCIL leader Stephen Greenhalgh has quit Hammersmith and Fulham politics to become deputy mayor for policing under Boris Johnson.
Mr Greenhalgh was due to step down as leader on May 30 but wanted to continue as a councillor for the Town ward in Fulham. However, City Hall rules prevented him fulfilling both roles and he has decided to stand down from local politics altogether.
Deputy council leader Nick Botterill was on Wednesday night voted in by councillors to become the new leader and will assume his role on May 30, subject to a vote at a council meeting that night. A by-election will take place in Town ward to decide on Mr Greenhalgh's replacement there.
Mr Greenhalgh, who became council leader in 2006, had wanted to stay on as a councillor but said the opportunity to work with Mr Johnson was too good to turn down.
He said: "I had intended to honour my commitments as a backbench councillor but, unfortunately, it is clear that, based on the current legislation, this would appear not to be possible. Therefore, with regret, it is now my intention to stand down from the council."
Cllr Botterill said: "It is an honour and a privilege to be nominated leader of not only the best council in London, but the best council in Britain."
Mr Johnson hailed Mr Greenhalgh's appointment, saying: "Stephen is a big beast of local London politics who has proven time and again he can deliver more for less - cutting council tax in Hammersmith & Fulham while also helping to drive down crime, making neighbourhoods safer. He has a wealth of experience in uniting communities and pulling together the work of agencies to not only crackdown on crime but also continue our work in breaking the cycle of crime."
Mr Greenhalgh said his priority in his new role is reduce knife crime and clamp down on gangs, but opponents in Hammersmith questioned his qualification for the role.
Labour's Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter said: "I'm not surprised he has been given a role at City Hall because we know the Mayor’s office and this council are very close, but he has no record or experience in a police role.
"His expertise is in planning and knocking down social housing."
But Mr Greenhalgh hit back, saying: "In H&F more burglars, thieves and violent criminals are now behind bars thanks to our no nonsense approach to cracking down on crime and I am relishing the opportunity to help the Mayor cut crime across London."
He added his time as council leader should be remembered for cutting taxes and reducing the council's multi-million pound debt but opponents say his legacy will be his 'access all areas' invitation to developers and his lack of social housing provision.