About the Council

Southwark Council supports a thriving, diverse, dynamic community, and a borough of huge excitement and opportunity. A borough with a rich and proud history, strong sense of community and a great ability to transform and renew, sometimes very much against the odds.

Southwark typifies the changes, challenges and opportunities of being part of global city and international destination of choice for business, enterprise, entertainment and the arts.


Our borough is home to the Shard, world-famous attractions such as the Tate Modern, Borough Market, Dulwich Picture Gallery and Tower Bridge. We have recently attracted renowned organisations like Mountview theatre school and the Central Ballet School to our borough.


But Southwark is a place of contrasts and as well as the places seen by tourists and visitors, we are a place to call home. As the largest local authority landlord in London, we manage 55,000 council homes which are home to 40% of Southwark’s residents. 


We are also home to over 18,300 businesses including iconic London venues and social enterprises. We support and work with our businesses to ensure local people benefit from opportunities to train, work and progress in our borough. As a young, diverse and growing borough, we demand the best start in life for our children, and support their journey to become thriving adults.


And we are a green borough, with many award winning parks, tree-lined streets and estates, allotments and woods. Our ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency and improve active travel, demand the very best for our residents.


Despite all our efforts, we still have more to do to ensure all our residents get the best from our borough. In Southwark we’re committed to making our borough just and fair, and taking positive action to tackle inequalities, including those health inequalities illustrated by COVID-19. Our residents and communities are our greatest asset and together we are moving forward from the pandemic to rebuild our economy and create a greener borough for our growing population to thrive in.


The passion we have for Southwark is shared by millions of Londoners who enjoy our outstanding cultural offer, use our hospitals and attend our universities.


Our refreshed borough plan which prioritises good quality housing, tackling the climate emergency and reducing inequalities, also sets out our commitment that Southwark Stands Together. Our work with Southwark’s communities and the council’s staff to tackle racism, injustice and inequality, underpins all we do, as do our values which are shared by all.


Good quality homes for all

As London’s largest social landlord for over 45,000 tenants, the council is who they rely on to keep their homes, warm, safe and dry. We are investing significantly not only in keeping our existing housing stock in high quality condition with a dedicated in-house repairs and maintenance service, but pressing forward with an ambitious programme of building new council houses, leading the way on this in London.


We want our tenants, including a sizeable number of leaseholders, to feel that we are responsive to their needs and our resident and customer services teams work closely with tenants and communities to ensure we continue to provide high quality services. 


Strategic Director, Housing role covers the following service areas:

  • New homes – Leading on plans for delivery of the council’s new homes targets
  • Building safety and asset management – Ensuring the safety and maintenance and improvement of the council’s housing stock
  • Resident services – providing a comprehensive tenancy management service and helping those in housing need. 
  • Customer services – first point of contact for all customers of council services and provision of specialist customer services, including registrars  
  • Corporate facilities management – responsible for the management and development of the council’s corporate estate


Thriving neighbourhoods

We want Southwark to be a place that our residents are proud to call home. From keeping our streets and neighbourhoods clean and tidy, to providing great local facilities like our state of the art libraries and leisure centres, Southwark strives to be a cleaner and greener part of central London. 


People matter in Southwark, and our public health teams focus in partnership with local NHS providers on tacking health issues and health inequalities. We’re proud of Southwark’s numerous award winning parks and green spaces, and we are tackling the climate emergency not only in terms of clean air, planting more trees, installing electric vehicle charging points, promoting high quality public transport but building in sustainability within our neighbourhoods and business communities. To support all of this,our community engagement teams work closely with residents from all sectors of our population, ensuring that their views are listened to.


Strategic Director, Environment and Leisure role covers the following service areas:

  • Leisure services – provision of library, heritage and cultural services, youth and play services, management and insourcing of the council’s leisure centres contract, management of parks and open spaces.
  • Environment – Waste and cleansing services, highways maintenance and traffic management, including parking services, trading standards and enforcement, noise and nuisance.
  • Climate emergency – Promoting and embedding climate action and sustainability across the council and the borough 
  • Public health – Leading, in partnership with local NHS providers, the promotion of better health outcomes and tackling health inequalities within the borough, as well as leading the COVID-19 public health response for Southwark
  • Community engagement – active engagement with the whole community, including our tenants and residents associations, working with them to understand their needs, and working with them to find solutions to local issues. 


A great quality of life

Providing a good, safe start in life and ensuring we provide high quality services and support to the most vulnerable in our society is the foundation of a caring community. Keeping children safe is our responsibility and supporting them and their families to thrive is what makes our Children Services rated for over a decade as ‘good’. This is achieved by delivery of professional social care services, allied with high quality specialist services including those for special education needs children and those with disabilities; delivered in partnership with local NHS providers. For vulnerable adults and older members of our community, we strive to provide individual and community-based services that provide independence and dignity, and ensure they can participate as fully as possible in their communities.


Learning is a lifetime activity and over 90% of Southwark schools are now rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’; in addition we deliver an extensive programme of learning for  adults. We have sought to support our children in their studies by rolling out free healthy school meals to school nurseries, in addition to our offer to all primary school children, and closed roads around schools to make it easier for children to walk and cycle to school.


Strategic Director, Children and Adults covers the following service areas:

  • Children and families – Provision of comprehensive service to keep children safe, support children in care, leaving care and adoption, family early help and Youth Justice.
  • Adult social care – Provision of services to older people and safeguarding, meeting the needs of adults with physical and learning difficulties, mental health services in partnership with local NHS providers. 
  • Social care services commissioning – provision of contracted services  across children and adult social care, and education sectors.
  • Education – Provision of statutory services, alternative school provision, school transport for special educational needs (SEN) and disabled students, support for children with SEN and/or disability within school settings. Management of education place provision, adult education, and development of education standards and practice


Financial and governance management

The council is a politically-led organisation, and decision-making and good governance is pivotal to our success. Our constitutional team oversees this work and ensures our Councillors are supported to undertake their duties.


Southwark is large complex organisation that is responsible for planning and accounting for hundreds of millions of pounds of revenue spending in addition to planning for the use of significant capital sums. The council’s finance team delivers a comprehensive suite of services including management accounting, treasury management and managing volumes of monies coming into the Council including from Council tax, business rates and rental income alongside payment of benefits to those eligible in the  community. 


As a large complex public body the council’s activities are managed and delivered with a complex and extensive framework of legislation, statutory responsibilities and obligations, all of which require highly specialised legal advice and guidance. The council retains a significant in-house capability to deliver against all demands placed on the Legal Services team, which is one of the largest in-house practices within the public sector in London.


Strategic Director, Finance and Governance role covers the following service areas:

  • Law and governance – Provision of constitution and electoral services, delivery of a comprehensive Legal service including specialist corporate procurement 
  • Professional finance services – A comprehensive management and operational accounting service.
  • Exchequer services – Management of the Council revenue streams and benefit payment services, accounts payable and receivable services.


An inclusive economy

Southwark has a thriving local economy and our businesses and employers are an essential part of what makes Southwark a unique place to live and work. We are ensuring that all parts of our community can benefit from the development of the local economy by working with all our local businesses from small independents to large companies, to make Southwark an economically vibrant place to do business. We are actively promoting schemes to open opportunities for young people to work and progress in the borough where they live, via various programmes including our award-winning apprenticeship scheme, paid internships, and our Southwark Construction Skills Centre.


Southwark has, over recent decades, seen significant change across the borough, including the transformation of the riverfront, improvements to our housing estates, renewal of our town centres and large regeneration schemes. Our regeneration and planning teams have worked collaboratively with communities and developers to maximise opportunities to improve the built environment and, with good strategic planning in partnership with the Mayor and TfL, massively improved transport links. More large-scale transformation is being planned and undertaken in Canada Water and along the Old Kent Road.


Chief Executive department covers the following service areas:

Strategy and Economy – Provides support to the political and executive leadership of the council, delivery of public affairs and comprehensive corporate communications. The local economy team works both strategically and practically to attract and support businesses and create opportunities for local people.  

Planning and growth – Responsible for delivering large and small scale regeneration schemes, management of the delivery of a comprehensive planning service, as well as strategic urban development and transport planning for the borough. 

Employee experience – provides an HR and organisational development professional advice consultancy service along with teams that deliver people policy development, recruitment/resourcing support and management of baseline queries and operational transactional work.

Political Make-up

Southwark is made up of 23 wards, with 63 councillors leading the council. Each of these councillors sits on the council assembly, which is the ‘sovereign body’ of the council. The assembly is chaired by the Mayor of Southwark.


The council assembly is responsible for approving the budget, developing policies, making constitutional decisions and deciding on local legislation.


Two political parties are represented on the council. The Labour party holds 52 seats, the Liberal Democrat party 11 seats and there is one independent member. The council is controlled by the Labour party. A cabinet, which is a senior group of councillors working in a similar way to the government’s cabinet, is headed by the leader. The leader is elected by council assembly for a term of four years. The leader appoints a cabinet made up of up to ten councillors, each holding a special ‘portfolio’ of responsibility. The majority opposition party in Southwark Council is the Liberal Democrat party who have spokespeople for each portfolio within the cabinet.


The cabinet is responsible for leading the community planning and consultation process, searching for best value, drafting the budget, deciding on policies, and taking decisions on resources and priorities. The portfolio responsibilities are currently:

Councillor Kieron Williams – Leader of the Council

Councillor Jasmine Ali – Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Education & Refugees

Councillor Evelyn Akoto – Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing

Councillor Stephanie Cryan – Cabinet Member for Communities, Equalities & Finance

Councillor Helen Dennis/Cllr James McAsh (maternity cover) – Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development

Councillor Dora Dixon-Fyle MBE – Cabinet Member for Community Safety

Councillor Darren Merrill – Cabinet Member for Council Homes and Homelessness

Councillor Catherine Rose – Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Streets & Clean Air

Councillor Martin Seaton – Cabinet Member for Jobs, Business and Town Centres

Councillor Kieron Williams – Leader of the Council


The majority opposition party in Southwark Council is the Liberal Democrat party who have spokespeople for each portfolio within the cabinet.

EDI Statement

Our workforce Equality, Diversity and Inclusion statement


Southwark Council celebrates the richness of our diverse communities and we are proud of our borough.
We commit to paying special attention to the needs of all our diverse communities with particular focus on our most vulnerable residents and will be inclusive in the ways we co-create and co-design services with our residents.


We recognise that we may not have always got this right in the past but we are dedicated to intensifying our commitments to strengthen engagement with staff, residents, businesses and the wider community in order to shape and deliver on the promise of a fairer future for all.

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