Vote of ‘no confidence’ in Labour-run council set to take place

Cllr Edward Smith
Conservative councillor Edward Smith says the council is in “crisis”

Conservative group claims ‘time is right’ to try to defeat Labour administration but council leader slams ‘futile stunt’, reports James Cracknell

Councillors are set to vote next week on a motion of “no confidence in the Labour administration”.

The opposition Conservative group submitted the motion following a series of defections and resignations among Labour councillors, most of whom have spoken publicly of their concerns over the way the council is being run.

Over the last year, seven Labour councillors have either defected to a rival political group, Community First, or have quit the council altogether.

An ‘extraordinary meeting’ has been now been called for Friday 19th March, just before purdah rules – that restrict party political debate – come in ahead of May’s local by-elections and City Hall election.

Conservative councillor Edward Smith said that they had been considering a motion of no confidence for some time but decided “the situation has now reached a crisis point” because of the accumulating number of defections and resignations of experienced Labour councillors “complaining of a culture of bullying and autocratic behaviour”.

Cllr Smith told the Dispatch: “To hold an extraordinary council meeting there has to be an issue of some significance. There have been discussions about when was the right time, and we decided now was the right time.

“The motion is directed at the failings of the Labour administration as a whole, it is not a personal motion. The continual defections of long-standing Labour councillors is a reflection of the culture within the current Labour group and the unhealthy nature of that.

“We felt we couldn’t let it carry on and we wanted there to be a public discussion about that so the issues can be aired.”

As well as the seven resignations and defections of Labour councillors, the Conservative group has raised concerns around council policies including the introduction of low-traffic neighbourhoods, support for controversial high-rise tower blocks, and “excessive” council borrowing.

Cllr Smith concedes that the motion of no confidence is unlikely to succeed. The number of Conservative, Community First and independent councillors combined totals 22, but 31 votes would be needed to support the motion.

The Tory deputy leader added: “We don’t expect to win this debate but we what we want to do is air a number of issues that people are concerned about. Residents do expect these things to be debated.”

Council leader Nesil Caliskan said: “This futile stunt shows that Conservatives councillors have nothing positive to offer Enfield residents. It is a waste of council resource in the middle of public health crisis when council officers are under immense pressure and money is tight.”

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm an extraordinary meeting of Enfield Council will take place at 7pm on 19th March. Details are available on the Enfield Council website.

“It only requires five councillors to call an extraordinary meeting of Enfield Council. Extraordinary council meetings have been called in the past by opposition groups.”