Redbridge Labour leader ousted in secret vote

A vote of no confidence has seen the leader of the Labour group on Redbridge Council ousted from his position after more than half of his colleagues voted him out in a secret ballot.

His predecessor Cllr Elaine Norman, backed up by Cllr Jas Athwal, put forward the no confidence motion on Friday, with the vote taking place on Tuesday night during a meeting of the shadow cabinet.

Fourteen of the 23 Labour councillors present voted to oust their leader, while one abstained from the secret ballot.

Deputy leader Cllr Balvinder Saund resigned from her position during the meeting before a proposed vote of no confidence on her future took place.

Party chairman Cllr Dev Sharma told the Recorder members had “lost confidence” in the party’s leadership.

He added: “One issue that may have precipitated this is the way the resignation of Cllr [Mike] Figg was handled.

“We are reeling and we won’t know before Tuesday [the day of the leadership vote] where we go from here.

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“I’m very saddened that it happened but these things happen. Life goes on.”

Cllr Littlewood, who spoke to members in defence of his record before the vote of no confidence, was elected party leader in May of last year.

The Seven Kings ward councillor was elected to Redbridge Council in November 1996, but had served eight years on the council before that.

Labour colleague Cllr Filly Maravala said: “This has never been done in the history of the Redbridge Labour group: deposing a leader and deputy leader mid term.

“But like the democratic party that we are, we had a vote, and a vote of no confidence was carried and we are where we are.

“But I regret it very much and I hope it doesn’t send out the wrong signal because we have a by-election in Aldborough to fight.”

The Recorder was unable to reach Cllr Saund, Cllr Norman or Cllr Athwal for comment before going to press on Wednesday afternoon.