Three Redbridge Labour councillors resigned from their party yesterday, accusing the local leadership of complacency, a lack of strategic direction and dictatorial attitudes.

Councillors Filly Maravala and Virendra Tewari of Loxford Ward joined Balvinder Saund of Seven Kings on the steps of Redbridge Town Hall where they cut up their party membership cards.

The trio have formed the Redbridge Independent Group with Cllr Maravala as leader and are urging others to join them.

The news comes after councillors Maravala and Tewari were deselected as candidates for Loxford as part of a Labour shake up for next year’s council elections.

At an emotional press conference, Cllr Maravala, who has represented Loxford for 19 years, slammed Labour Group leader Jas Athwal and his deputy Wes Streeting.

Cllr Maravala labelled plans to scrap area committees ‘a sham’ and described the leadership's behaviour at the council’s last budget meeting, where they failed to propose any significant amendments to the ruling coalition’s plans, as ‘a fiasco’.

He said: “We were made a laughing stock at that meeting.

“The Labour group hasn’t put out an alternative budget for God knows how long, they keep putting Mickey Mouse amendments forward which they know will fail.

“There have been no new policy initiatives and they have let down the people of Redbridge. They take decisions on the hoof.”

Cllr Saund described the atmosphere within the party as ‘corrosive’ and talked of ‘whispering campaigns’ against those who had backed former leader Bob Littlewood after he was ousted by Cllr Athwal in 2011 in a vote of no confidence.

She said: “The current thinking in the Labour group seems to be that somehow if you just sit there and don’t do any work we will automatically become the majority party in 2014.”

Cllr Tewari, who has been a Labour Party member for more than 45 years, compared the deselection process to being hounded out of office.

And he said: “The Labour party both nationally and locally has no room for dissent.

“The leader is everything. Where is the democracy in that?”

Earlier this month Chadwell Heath councillor Andy Walker left the party after being deselected.

He claims he was pushed out for organising cross-party initiatives in the battle to save A&E and maternity services at King George Hospital.

He declined an invitation from Cllr Maravala to join the breakaway group yesterday, but received praise from Cllr Saund who took the opportunity to have a dig at Cllr Streeting.

She said: “Out of the three Chadwell Heath councillors Andy is the hardest working.

“He goes the extra mile to help his constituents. Wes Streeting is too busy looking at the future and hoping to be an MP. He is just a career politician.”

In a statement issued after their resignations, Cllr Athwal was dismissive of the defectors.

He said: “I am sad that they have put their personal ambition ahead of the concerns of the residents they purport to represent.

“It seems they are only prepared to respect democratic decision-making when it goes their way. Such attitudes have no place in the Labour Group.

“With these people gone, we now have a united team and a stronger field of candidates who will work for residents towards a victory in 2014.”

A total of five Labour councillors have resigned from the party since May 2010, leaving the Labour Group with 21 councillors.

The Conservatives have 29 councillors while their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats have seven.

There are now six independent councillors, including former Conservative Harold Moth and Ali Hai who stepped down from the Labour Group last year.

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