Ayfer Orhan is a former cabinet member who quit Labour in May this year, reports James Cracknell
A former Labour councillor in Enfield has joined the Liberal Democrats.
Earlier this year Ayfer Orhan became the ninth councillor to leave the Labour group since 2020, initially becoming an independent sitting with her ex-Labour colleagues in the Community First group at the civic centre.
But Cllr Orhan has now announced that she is joining the Lib Dems ahead of next year’s local election, although she will continue to be part of Community First until then.
The Ponders End ward councillor said in a statement: “I was first elected to serve in 1998 and for almost the last 20 years I have had the honour and privilege of serving the residents of Ponders End.
“I will continue to serve as a Liberal Democrat. I was elected on a manifesto of safer and stronger communities, a cleaner and greener environment, better health for all, decent and secure homes for everyone, a decent education for our children, care and support when you need it and for a more equal Enfield. I was unable to deliver on these for residents under this current Labour administration. But I now can as a member of the Liberal Democrats.”
The Community First group on the council is not registered as a political party and now contains four independents, two Green Party councillors, and one Lib Dem. Cllr Orhan is the first to confirm that she will be standing for re-election.
The Liberal Democrat Party did not previously have any councillors in Enfield but recently announced an election strategy called ‘Together for Enfield’ which will see Lib Dems campaigning together with independent candidates, including former councillor Don McGowan, who was de-selected by Labour prior to the 2018 election.
Together for Enfield will be fielding joint lists of candidates who, if elected, will work together in the civic centre. Cllr Orhan is the only Community First councillor who has said she will be part of it.
Rob Wilson, the campaigns and election lead for the Lib Dems in Enfield, said: “We welcome Ayfer and look forward to working together on building democracy, openness and co-operation in Enfield.
“The Lib Dems are also working with local independent candidates to get everyone’s voice heard and give Enfield the future it deserves.”
Cllr Orhan has been a councillor for 19 years and spent eight of those as a cabinet member of schools and children services. Like her Community First colleagues, she quit the Labour after falling out with the current council leadership. At the time she also cited her disapproval of Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party nationally.
On her reasons for joining the Lib Dems, she added: “We have so many challenges in this borough, some local such as the sale of public assets without effective public consultation, the danger to the Green Belt and the questions being asked about ‘late’ council accounts and some national issues we must challenge, such as the historical underfunding of local government by the Conservative government.
“We will fail the people of Enfield if we do not start to work together. We have to restore local democracy, rebuild public trust, and start co-operating with each other. I believe the Liberal Democrats who are now working with local independent candidates offers us the chance to do just that.”