Hackney councillor leaves Labour for Conservatives

A respected councillor has crossed the floor from Labour to the Conservatives.

Linda Kelly, who represents Leabridge has left the Labour party.

She was deputy speaker and her new party said it is convention that the deputy becomes speaker.

In a statement following cllr Kelly’s move after the council’s AGM this week a party spokeswoman said: “It’s a shame for Cllr Linda Kelly that she has decided to join the Conservative Party, following nine years as a Labour councillor in Hackney.

“Cllr Linda Kelly wanted to become the Speaker of Hackney for a second time, and in a recent election, Labour councillors chose another councillor for the civic post. Linda was not happy with this outcome and it seems that she decided she could no longer continue as a Labour councillor.”

Labour has called for a by-election, saying: “Leabridge ward had the lowest Tory vote in London in May 2010 of 5.3 per cent, so she has no mandate to continue as a councillor in that ward. Leabridge ward still has two hard working Labour councillors and Linda should resign and fight a by-election so that residents there are given the chance to decide on who represents their interests best.”

But their calls for a by-election were rejected by Conservative Simche Steinberger.

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He said: “We are very glad to have probably one of the hardest working councillors in Hackney. She was chair of the north east neighbourhood committee, she was on Hackney Homes board.

“When I tell people Linda has joined us - everybody knows her.”

He added: “Two years ago when there was a switch from the Liberals to Labour they did not call for a by-election. Where was the by-election when someone crossed to them.”

Conservative leader Michael Levy commented: “The Conservative group is small but very beautifully formed. We are delighted to have our numbers increased by 20 per cent.”

The defection makes little difference to the balance of power on Hackney council.

Labour now has 49 councillors, with a Labour mayor Jules Pipe, the Conservatives have five and the Lib Dems have three councillors.