THE COUNCILLOR who was forced to step down after her ‘silly mistake’ caused the Knight’s Hill by-election has been voted back in, writes Hannah Skellern.
Sonia Winifred has become a councillor for the second time in three months – despite sparking the £15,000 by-election when she broke election rules by running as a candidate at the same time as working for the council as a teaching assistant in what she described as a ‘silly mistake’.
The Labour candidate bagged 1,265 votes in a landslide win – beating the Conservatives with 248 votes and the Greens with 230.
Bernard Gentry, a Conservative councillor for Clapham Common, said he thought Cllr Winifred should have retired from politics after the election blunder.
“She should have had the good grace not to stand again,” he said.
“The council is now £15,000 out of pocket because of an unnecessary by-election.”
Leader of the Lambeth Green Party Jonathan Bartley said: “Fewer than one in eight people in Knight’s Hill cast their vote for Labour in this by-election. This should be a serious concern to the self-styled co-operative council.”
“Once again it shows that Labour’s council majority has much more to do with a broken electoral system than any real mandate from local people.”
Leader of the Conservative Party Tim Briggs said: “This whole event is extremely damaging for Labour, and shows their incompetence and arrogance.”
Cllr Winifred did not respond to requests from the Weekender to comment on councillors’ concerns.
A spokesperson for Lambeth Labour said: “We are reviewing our procedures to make sure this can’t happen again.”
“Sonia made an honest mistake. At no time did she try to conceal the fact she was a teaching assistant and once it was brought to her attention she resigned.
A statement from Cllr Winifred said: “I’m delighted by the result and I will work hard every day to repay the trust residents in West Norwood have shown in me.
“I’m determined to be a strong voice on the council, campaigning on the issues that matter to local residents.”