Sadiq Khan was dealt an early blow to his mayorship this morning, as his housing expert – a former senior adviser to Jeremy Corbyn – has quit his team.
Neale Coleman was appointed to help with Khan's first few months in power, but Coleman is said to have walked out on City Hall after the former Tooting MP was reluctant to give him a full-time position.
A City Hall source said: "Neale agreed to help us out in the transition period and we're very grateful for the work he has done on that.
"We understand now that he is looking to pursue longer-term projects and we wish him well."
An ally of the mayor told the London Evening Standard: "Neale is a big loss, and one we can't really afford. The mayor's team looks fairly inexperienced, apart from a couple of big-hitters, and Neale walking out leaves us weak on planning and housing."
City AM understand that, despite having worked in City Hall for a considerable period, Neale Coleman will be moving on to other projects.
Khan's deputy for housing is a relatively inexperienced former councillor, James Murray. Coleman has significant experience in City Hall, having worked for both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson. However, Khan only offered Coleman a three month contract.
Boris Johnson also suffered a series of departures of senior staff in his first few weeks as mayor when he took office in 2008
City insiders felt Coleman's knowledge in housing and planning would have been vital to a mayor facing a major housing crisis in London.
Neale Coleman's experience and moderate stance was regarded as an asset to Khan's office:
Neale Coleman won't be taking up planning role for @MayorofLondon after all. A shame: would have provided continuity, experience & gd grasp
— Damian Wild (@DamianWild) May 26, 2016
Losing Neale Coleman after only three weeks is a massive blow for the new Mayor. Neale was his biggest hitter …
— PeterBingle (@PeterBingle) May 27, 2016
That is a huge error on Sadiq’s part. Neale Coleman is not just highly experienced but – rare for public sector – hugely competent.
— Martin Hoscik (@MartinHoscik) May 27, 2016