‘Step change’ promised by new men at helm of Redbridge Labour group

The new faces of the Redbridge Labour group have vowed a “fresh look and step change” after Tuesday’s election.

Cllr Jas Athwal was elected as leader after a secret ballot in Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, and Cllr Wes Streeting was voted deputy leader.

The pair won their positions by roughly two-thirds of the vote, after former group leader Cllr Bob Littlewood was ousted last week in a vote of no confidence and his deputy Balvinder Saund resigned.

“There was a real buzz and energy, and a sense of camaraderie after the meeting where everyone came together,” said Cllr Athwal.

“But now starts the hard work,” he added.

Chadwell ward Cllr Streeting, who was elected to the council after a by-election in July 2010, said: “We’ll be holding Redbridge Council to account to make sure we protect front line services for taxpayers.

“We are hearing all the time about parents who can’t cope because their children are going to schools in different boroughs, it’s not acceptable.”

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They have vowed to look at all members and use their talents within the group. “Cllr Ross Hatfull works in housing for a different borough and Cllr Helen Coomb was a deputy headteacher, so we’ll be looking at using our member’s areas of expertise to scrutinise and hold the council to account,” said Cllr Streeting.

Cllr Athwal, a Mayfield ward councillor elected in May 2010, praised former council leader Cllr Littlewood and deputy Cllr Saund, saying: “They are both very talented people who have worked as ward councillors for years, and they have done much good work in their time as leaders.

“What I believe hasn’t changed, I am a Redbridge resident first and foremost, elected to listen to other residents and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent well,” he added.

Cllr Streeting, an avid user of social networking site Twitter, said the group would be looking at fresh ways of communicating with residents.

“We think it’s right for everyone to know what’s going on in their borough so we’ll be looking at engaging more with residents through different platforms, like Twitter,” he said.