Call for transparency on Momentum affiliations in Southend Labour group

A former deputy mayor of Southend has called for Labour members in the new administration to declare any affiliation with hard left group Momentum, “in the interests of transparency”.

Mark Flewitt, former Conservative councillor for St Laurence ward spoke out after Labour, Independents and the Lib Dems joined forces to form a new administration following the local elections.

Councillor Stephen George took over the leadership of the Labour Group following the ousting of Ian Gilbert by one vote last weekend.

A Labour insider revealed a number of Momentum-supporting councillors are now part of the administration but so far their identities have not been revealed.

Mr Flewitt said: “With a whole new political grouping on the block, the political landscape of the city is changing. As I understand it the Labour Party fracture has lead to the new political grouping coming into existence.

“Momentum, already within Labour, is said to carry a substantial number of members in Southend. Finding out who is in Momentum is really important for ordinary voters but the councillors’ register of interests reveals absolutely no mention of any current Labour councillor being a member of Momentum or Extinction Rebellion, but some have made verbal declarations at meetings that they are.”

Mr Flewitt added: “In the interests of transparency I would urge those relevant candidates and existing councillors to reveal their associate membership of any groups.”

Cllr Martin Terry, leader of the Independent Group, said: “The internal machinations of the Labour Party is up to them. We have a clear understanding there will be no lean to the left. I’ve known George for well over 20 years and he is not Momentum.

“It is clear the Conservatives are playing politics with this. As far as we are concerned Independents won’t work with the Conservatives. We could equally say that if we went with the Conservatives we would lean right because quite a few of them are quite right wing. Independents won’t do left or right.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter