THE COUNCIL are forking out thousands of pounds for a by-election in Knight’s Hill after a Labour councillor who broke election rules resigned just six weeks after being voted in.
Former councillor for Knight’s Hill Sonia Winifred was appointed while working as a teaching assistant – even though council employees are not allowed to stand for election.
The blunder failed to be flagged up despite Ms Winifred putting her vocation on her campaign flyers.
Ms Winifred has now quit her job at Clapham Manor School she can stand for office again at the by-election – which is estimated to cost around £15,000 of the tax-payers’ money.
She said she was not aware that her job title went against election rules, putting the incident down to a ‘silly mistake’.
The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident and a 59-year-old woman was interviewed under caution at Central London Police Station on July 16. At the time of going to press, no arrests had been made and enquiries were ongoing.
The by-election on August 14 could be a good opportunity for the Tories, Greens, and Lib Dems to attempt to make a dent on the Labour dominance in Lambeth, who hold 58 out of 63 seats.
Cllr Tim Brigs, head of the Lambeth Conservative party, said: “Something has gone seriously wrong here. Lambeth Labour should have known more about their candidates.”
Jonathan Bartley, leader of the Lambeth Green party, said, “People are noticing an arrogance about Labour in Lambeth. Unrepentantly standing the same candidate again sends out the message that Labour are complacent and believe they can get away with anything.”
Lambeth Lib Dem head Alex Davies said: “The incompetence of Labour officials and of their candidate means a £15,000 bill to the public purse as residents vote in an August by-election.
A statement from Sonia Winifred said: “I am sorry that this innocent but silly mistake means that I have had to resign as a councillor. At no time since being selected have I tried to conceal that I was a teaching assistant – I even put it on my election leaflets.
“It was an honour to be elected by the people of Knight’s Hill and I want to continue working hard on their behalf.”
A spokesperson for Lambeth Labour said: “It is the responsibility of the Labour Party’s Local Campaigns Forum to vet candidates. An oversight during this process meant that Ms Winifred’s ineligibility was overlooked.”