Faith community reacts to Labour’s local election success in Redbridge
12:04 03 June 2014
Members of the faith community have reacted with surprise at Labour’s election success after they secured overall control over the council.
Cllr Jas Athwal, Redbridge’s Labour leader, described the success as the “proudest moment” of his political career after his party gained control of the council for the first-time ever in the borough’s 50-year history.
Labour feel they have listened to the electorate after running a campaign spanning two years, knocking on doors across the borough.
But, despite the excitement of new era amongst the faith community, some leaders have reservations when it comes to services either being expanded or maintained.
Mankamal Singh, Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Seven Kings, said: “It is exciting to see some change and new faces. I know Kam Rai (Labour, Goodmayes) and Varinder Bola (Labour, Cranbrook) - who have both been elected.”
Mr Singh feels Labour needs to look at “bridging” the north-south gap in Redbridge.
He said: “In terms of what I would like to see, I would like the divide bridged so we spread services across the borough. So we have a “south” that we can be proud of.
“I am hoping we can work towards that.”
Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, of Chabad Lubavitch Centre, in Woodford Avenue, was another who did not see Labour’s victory coming.
He said: “I was surprised about going from a hung council to a Labour one and having a complete shift.”
Rabbi Sufrin also hopes Labour can look at making the same services available across Redbridge.
“There are always concerns about the services available for the wider community. How will Labour affect the man on the street?
“We hope to work with the council to achieve good things for residents of the borough.”
Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the League of British Muslims, in Eton Road, attended the lengthy count at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.
He, too, had reservations Labour would stay true to their pre-poll promises.
He said: “I was not expecting that result to be honest. Labour completely annihilated the opposition.
“They have made a lot of promises and I do not think they will be able to deliver unless they cut some services.”
Cllr Athwal, though, hit back at these fears by offering a reminder Muhammed Javed, Mayor of Rebridge between 2012-13, now a Labour councillor, appointed representatives of five different faiths to serve as the borough’s official chaplains during his tenure as mayor.
“Faiths play a big role in Redbridge,” added Cllr Athwal, a practising Sikh. “What we would like to do is allow faiths to flourish.
“What people need to do is talk to the Labour party and cabinet members and see what role they can play.”
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