Deputy leader of Redbridge Council joins Labour Party's Ilford South selection race
PUBLISHED: 10:01 14 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:01 14 October 2019
The deputy leader of Redbridge Council has thrown his hat into the ring in the Labour Party's Ilford South selection contest.
It comes after Labour reopened candidate applications for the constituency after council leader Jas Athwal was suspended by the party over "extremely serious allegations" hours before a selection decision was due to be made.
Cllr Athwal said "untrue allegations" were made against him in August and called for a "fair hearing and due process".
Now, Redbridge Council's deputy leader Councillor Kam Rai has put himself forward to be Labour's candidate for Ilford South.
"No one wanted the selection in Ilford South to be taking place in these circumstances," he said.
"I'm asking for your support to bring our local Party back together, to heal our divisions and unite the whole community behind us - so that we have a strong local Labour MP in Ilford South and a Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn in Westminster.
"As deputy leader of Redbridge Council and councillor for Goodmayes, I am rooted in the local community.
"My children attend local schools, my family relies on local NHS services and we feel the impact of Tory police cuts.
"I'm proud of the work I've done as cabinet member for finance and resources to protect our community from the worst of Tory austerity.
"I've put more money into adult social services to support pensioners and disabled people with their care.
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"I've invested in local schools. I've kept every library open and funded new play equipment in our parks.
"I put together the big capital programmes to build the first wave of council homes in a generation and to fund new leisure facilities.
"A strong Labour Council isn't enough. We need a Labour government.
"Having been part of the team that has delivered record results for Labour in Redbridge I want to be part of the team that delivers a Labour government.
"So let's pull together, work together and win together."
Responding to the suspension of Cllr Athwal, rival candidate Sam Tarry said: "I am gutted that the selection process in Ilford South has been suspended, but it's absolutely the right thing to do.
"I am proud to have run a positive, people-powered campaign with hundreds of local supporters.
"I look forward to winning the vote when it comes back."
Labour MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting thanked those who had raised objections to what he described as an "undemocratic stitch-up" in his neighbouring constituency.
He tweeted to say the "suspension of the local frontrunner just 15 hours before the vote is politically motivated and biased in order to stitch up the selection".
Cllr Athwal added: "This is not a fair process. It is contrary to natural justice. All I seek is a fair hearing and due process."