Three Redbridge councillors resign from Labour Party because borough leadership has ‘lost the plot’

From left: Cllrs Filly Maravala, Balvinder Saund and Virendra Tewari

From left: Cllrs Filly Maravala, Balvinder Saund and Virendra Tewari - Credit: Archant

Three Redbridge Labour councillors have dramatically resigned from their party this afternoon, claiming the leadership in the borough has “lost the plot”.

Cllr Filly Maravala

Cllr Filly Maravala - Credit: Archant

Cllrs Filly Maravala, Virendra Tewari and Balvinder Saund ripped up their Labour Party membership cards on the steps of Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford earlier.

Cllr Balvinder Saund

Cllr Balvinder Saund - Credit: Archant

The three, who between them have served on the council for 45 years, are forming the Redbridge Independent Group.

Cllr Virendra Tewari

Cllr Virendra Tewari - Credit: Archant

Their defections come in the same month the leadership of the Labour Party in Redbridge said councillors were being “shuffled around”.

After news some councillors in the party were to run in other wards in the borough in 2014, Labour group leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “You have to move your best people where they will make a difference. We are all here to be judged.”

But speaking yesterday, Cllr Maravala, 67, of Loxford ward, hit out at that statement, after being deselected from the ward he has served for 19 years.

He said: “The Redbridge Labour group has totally lost the plot and have not come up with alternatives to the yearly council budgets apart from making a few Mickey Mouse amendments.

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“In my view it has done precious little since 2010 and before.”

In 2011, Cllr Bob Littlewood was ousted as party leader in Redbridge in favour of Cllr Jas Athwal, with Cllr Wes Streeting becoming his deputy.

Cllr Maravala said: “I’m resigning with a heavy heart.

“But a great burden will be lifted off my chest and I’ll be able to say what the hell I want within what is decent.”

He added: “There will be no backlash. I can assure you 110 per cent the only backlash there will be will be from the leadership.

“The 3,403 votes I got in the last election were for Filly Maravala the man. They [constituents] couldn’t give a damn about the party.

“I could have been running for the Monster Raving Loony Party.

“I’ve put an intense amount of work into Loxford.”

Cllr Maravala, a married father of four, will be the leader of the Redbridge Independent Group, with Cllr Saund his deputy.

She has already signalled her intention to resign from politics in 2014.

The 61-year-old of Seven Kings ward said: “I am saddened to have been put in this untenable position of resigning from the Redbridge Labour group and Labour Party,

“My reason for leaving is not for personal reasons but because of lack of support both from the local Labour leadership and London region who apparently pride themselves in the support of women.

“I no longer have any confidence in the current leadership to be an effective opposition or to lead the Redbridge Labour group in acquiring a majority in the 2014 elections.”

She added the Labour group in Redbridge is “in a bit of chaos”, and went on: “I didn’t feel safe in the group after the new leadership.

“I didn’t enjoy going to Labour group meetings any more.”

She pointed to the national Labour Party’s proposal to abolish area committee meetings as one policy that pushed her into jumping ship.

Earlier this month, Chadwell ward Cllr Andy Walker left the Labour Party after being deselected.

Cllr Tewari, Loxford ward councillor for 19 years, said: “I have been a Labour Party member for over 45 years and the deselection of both Cllr Maravala and myself from Loxford ward was outrageous and an absolute disgrace.

“I feel that Cllrs Maravala, Saund and myself have been hounded out of office.”

It is understood the Redbridge Labour group’s leadership learned of the resignations this afternoon.