THE mayor of Waltham Forest is among a group of Labour councillors who have been spurned by their own party.

Waltham Forest first citizen Cllr Anna Mbachu has been deselected by party members, along with Shameem Highfield, Tarsem Bhogal, Elisabeth Davies and Milton Martin.

Despite no official line from the Labour party, angry deselected councillors have broken ranks and spoken out.

Cllr Davies said: "I'm angry. Of course I'm angry all three black councillors have been deselected. Is it racially motivated? What do you think?"

The member for Lea Bridge said she plans to challenge the decision by her Labour colleagues.

Cllr Martin, member for Cathall ward, said he was also angry about being ditched but wanted time to consider his response.

A Labour party insider said the cull was motivated by the rejected councillors' association with former council leader Clyde Loakes.

The news leaves Labour in Waltham Forest in disarray.

Leyton MP Harry Cohen's decision to stand down at the next election was confirmed on Tuesday (June 30) after he informed constituency party members on Friday.

He said the pressure placed on him and his wife by the media over his expenses claims was the reason he had decided not to defend his seat.

Mr Cohen is being investigated for claiming over 100,000 for his second home, which is in his constituency.

The apparent power struggle between factions within the local party, which has been further complicated by the issue of race, is likely to compound problems for Labour locally.

The Guardian understands that some members are resigned to losing control of the council and the Leyton and Wanstead parliamentary seat at next year's elections.

A Labour group spokesman said no comment would be made until the selection process had been completed.

Karen Bellamy and Khevyn Limbajee are in line to contest seats in Grove Green ward, which are currently held by Cllrs Mbachu and Bhogul, along with council leader Chris Robbins.

But worried Labour activists are expecting a strong challenge from the Liberal Democrats next year and some expect to lose control of the ward.

Cllrs Midge Broadley, Markhouse ward member, Adam Gladstone, who represents William Morris ward, and Eric Sizer, Labour group whip and member for Hoe Street ward, have confirmed they will stand down for personal reasons.