OBV Profile: Brian Haley

Date published: 16/06/2010

Haley, said to be “one of the most influential Black councillor’s in London”, is presently working on the environmental green agenda on delivering waste by water for the impending 2012 Olympic Games.

At 42, he sits as a cabinet member in the council for Environment and Conservation. A remit where he is responsible for tackling issues related to parking enforcement, street lighting, waste management, climate change and other environmental issues.

Haley’s additional responsibilities include being on the board for the African Caribbean Leadership Council and advisor to the environment agency in the North Thames region. He is also commissioner for the Greater London Authority (GLA) autoways, one of the London Mayor’s committees, presently responsible for the transportation of freight movement on the Thames canal.

For the past six and half years Haley has been chairman for London Waste, one of Europe’s largest heap and waste plants. He adds: “I’m also developing a brand new waste vehicle for London, this vehicle will revolutionise how waste is collected.”

Environmental issues are just some of his key focuses. Since 1990 he has worked as a sessional mental health act manager, where he assesses section three patients (individuals who are detained under the mental health act against their will).

And one of his most respected achievements is being the founder of the African-Caribbean Achievement Awards. Established 10 years ago the ceremony celebrates the achievements made by young people in education.

“To me, the awards ceremony is a real positive achievement for the community. We honour African and Caribbean youngsters who have had success in their exam results despite all the pressures and adversities in their life."

Celebrity supporters of the awards ceremony have included singer Lemar and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah, but Haley insists that it is not all about getting celebrities.

“Having celebrities, yes, is inspiring but we also include doctors, lawyers and architects from the Black community to show that it is not all about being a celebrity to be a success” Haley says.

Considering the large amount of local government work he is involved with, it is hard to believe that prior to being a councillor; Haley worked as a graphic design teacher for the College of North East London.

Haley was originally born in Guyana and came to Haringey in London at the age of four. Despite racial tensions in the area he says that he grew up like any other Black youngster in the area.

He decided to become a graphic designer and qualified in the profession at the College of North East London. He then went on to work for a number of graphic design companies. He eventually left design to teach the subject at the college.

Haley next joined the Labour Party, shortly after giving up teaching, when a Party member asked him invited him to join.

He explains: “Someone knocked on my door asking whether I would like to join the Labour Party and it started from there. It was at a time where I wanted to become more active within my community and looking around Haringey I felt that I could make a contribution.”

Haley has been a councillor for the past 13 years. He has introduced wheelie bins green boxes and other recycling units in Haringey, and sits on the North London waste authority, helping to improve the boroughs waste strategy over the next 25 years.

Glossing over his many political memories he recalls the time he went to Bernie Grant’s funeral. He was shown a picture by a Scottish MP of Grant wearing a kilt. He says that “this sums up Bernie, he went to Scotland for the first time and immersed himself in the culture”. He argues that this is how people should be because it gives them opportunities to mix in new circles.

Discussing his political aspirations for the future he says: “I hope to continue working in the community as a councillor. I find that in this role I have more of an influence to affect real change in peoples’ lives for the better.