ACCUSATIONS of harassment and a 'toxic atmosphere' have laid bare the divisions within Harrow Council's Labour factions.
On Wednesday Councillor Akhtar, the newly-formed Independent Labour Group's secretary, announced a nine-strong list of councillors who had split away from Labour Group after the then council leader Thaya Idaikkadar was ousted at the Labour Group's annual general meeting, replaced by Councillor David Perry.
The Observer can reveal that the nine rebel members signed the following statement: "We, the undersigned, concerned about the cavalier setting aside of Labour Party rules and the toxic atmosphere being created believe that it is impossible for us to fully exercise our rights as Labour Group members... We believe the situation is irretrievable and hereby resign."
Councillor William Stoodley is now the latest to defect from the Labour Group, restoring the Independent Labour Group's numbers to nine after Councillor Raj Ray rejoined the Labour Group. Mr Ray told the Observer on Friday that he was 'misrepresented' and that he does not recognise the Independent Labour Group, however it was confirmed this morning that he did sign the initial statement and briefly joined the rebel group.
Mr Akhtar, on announcing Mr Stoodley joining the splinter group, said: “This a symptomatic of disaffection within the Labour Group." Mr Akhtar claimed that life had been made hard for the Independent Labour Group members since the split.
He said: "Our members have been on the receiving end of repeated harassment from some members of the Harrow Labour Group. "While Councillor David Perry and some of his colleagues have chosen to target our members and systematically harass them, Councillor Thaya Idaikaddar is preparing to announce his new cabinet and concentrating on getting back to the business of running the council and delivering the service that residents deserve."
Mr Idaikkadar will be announcing his new cabinet today.
HARROW COUNCIL'S POLITICAL MAKE-UP:
Independent Labour 9
Liberal Democrat 1