Councillor ‘bewildered’ after becoming an independent

Bowes councillor Yasemin Brett said she wasn’t told she’d been removed from the Labour group, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Yasemin Brett has been an Enfield councillor since 1994 but is standing down next month

Confusion surrounds a councillor’s departure from Enfield Labour after she said she was “bewildered” to find she was no longer a member of the group.

Yasemin Brett, who represents Bowes ward, says she found out secondhand that she was listed as an independent on the council’s website and was not told by Enfield Labour that she had been removed from the group.

However, an Enfield Labour spokesperson said Cllr Brett “expressed that she was leaving the Labour group and communicated this via email” and the national Labour Party “subsequently informed her she was unable to remain a Labour Party member”.

Cllr Brett said: “I am bewildered as to why I have been put as an independent. I do find that strange.

“I continue to support the values of the Labour Party, but I do recognise the fact that I have voted against the group on the issue of the [Edmonton] incinerator, and unfortunately I can’t go back on that because I do believe it.

“Communication between myself and the Labour group is not all it should have been. I was not informed I was being made an independent.”

Cllr Brett, who has been a member of Enfield Council since 1994, is not standing for re-election when the local elections are held on 5th May.

During her tenure as a councillor, she has raised concerns over several Labour group policies. In 2018, when she was cabinet member for public health, Cllr Brett declared a non-pecuniary interest in a report on the North London Waste Plan and left a cabinet meeting while her colleagues discussed the matter. She had long opposed the construction of a waste plant at Pinkham Way because of environmental concerns.

Following the incident, council leader Nesil Caliskan suspended Cllr Brett from cabinet for breaking “a previously agreed collective position”. The council’s monitoring officer later found Cllr Caliskan had bullied Cllr Brett and breached the authority’s code of conduct over her handling of the matter – a ruling that was upheld by the council’s conduct committee.

Last year, Cllr Brett voiced concerns over a low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) in Bowes Park after a decision to approve the scheme was ‘called in’ to the scrutiny committee by opposition councillors. During a meeting, she said the way the LTN was implemented was “not helpful” and suggested there had been a lack of proper consultation with ward councillors.

During a full council meeting in January, Cllr Brett broke ranks with her Labour colleagues again to support Green Party councillor Charith Gunawardena’s motion calling for an independent assessment of the risks posed by the new Edmonton incinerator.

An Enfield Labour spokesperson said: “Cllr Brett expressed that she was leaving the Labour group and communicated this via email. The national Labour Party subsequently informed her she was unable to remain a Labour Party member.”