Islington councillor’s MP ambitions prompt anger
Islington’s controlling Labour group have been accused of lacking commitment to the borough as a second Cllr pursues a Parliamentary career.
Cllr Jess Asato, who currently represents St George’s Ward, was selected as the 2015 Labour Parliamentary candidate for Norwich North.
It’s not clear when she will stand down from her council role, but she will be the fifth Labour councillor to try and leave the town hall for Parliament since 2010.
Earlier this year Cllr Lucy Rigby left to fight the Lincoln seat, while Cllrs Kate Groucutt, Andy Hull and Charlynne Pullen were unsuccessful in trying to represent Cardiff, Bradford and Milton Keynes respectively.
MPs Jack Straw, Meg Hillier and Margaret Hodge have also left Islington Labour for Parliament in the past.
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If Cllr Asato leaves before the Islington elections, her departure will trigger a by-election – the fourth since Labour came to power – each costing around �25,000. Theopposition Lib Dems have criticised the council for wasting money.
Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Lib Dems, said: “By-elections have cost �75,000 already, and Norwich is a long way to go for the residents of St George’s to see their councillor. It doesn’t show a great commitment to the borough.”
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Cllr Paul Smith, deputy leader of Islington Labour group, said: “We are known as one of the best local authorities for our trailblazing policies.”
He added: “It’s no surprise they are being asked to stand as candidates for parliament by the Labour Party.”