Goodmayes ward councillor Ali Hai turns down chance to join newly formed Redbridge Independent Group
- Credit: Archant
An independent councillor who has changed his allegiance from Labour to the Conservatives has said he will not join the newly formed Redbridge Independent Group, despite being “approached”.
Cllr Ali Hai, of Goodmayes ward, resigned from the Labour Party in March 2012 after a row with its leadership.
Last month, three of his former Labour colleagues quit the party after claiming the leadership in Redbridge has “lost the plot”.
Cllrs Filly Maravala, Virendra Tewari and Balvinder Saund have now formed the Redbridge Independent Group.
They have added formerly independent Cllr Harold Moth, of Fullwell ward – who was expelled from the Redbridge Tory group last year – to their new group.
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And Chadwell Cllr Andy Walker, who resigned from Labour last month, said he hopes to meet the independent group this week with a view to possibly joining.
But Cllr Hai has no such plans, and is staying independent.
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He said: “It is down to the [Tory] group whether they invite me [to join].”
In August 2011, Cllr Hai was suspended from the Labour group for six months after 15 breaches of the party’s code of conduct, including failing to toe the line on the lease of Goodmayes Park Extension to football club Singh Sabha.
Speaking of the defections of Cllrs Maravala, Tewari and Saund, Labour group leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “When people fall short of their own standards, they have to blame everyone but themselves.
“They have to ask themselves why they’re doing this. The timing will not have passed people by. This is self-serving rather than anything against the party or the leadership.
“It would be damaging [to my leadership] if these things were said without the backdrop of deselection.
“It’s sour grapes – that’s what it’s stinking of.”
He added: “There’s a question of loyalty here. Democracy doesn’t only come when you’re winning. You need to humbly respect the will of the people.
“The selection process was entirely democratic.”
He said he would not miss the three councillors’ contribution to the party because they have put their “own aspirations and ambitions before the people”.
He added the group is now “more united”.
Cllr Maravala is the leader of Redbridge Independent Group, with Cllr Saund – who is quitting politics in May 2014 when the elections are held – his deputy.
A specially arranged full council meeting is being held tomorrow to adjust the political make-up of councillors who sit on committees and other bodies in the council, to reflect the newly formed group and balance of power within the chamber.