Gaps to be filled at Redbridge Council

There is no one in charge of housing or the homeless in Redbridge Council and “no set time frame” for when anyone will fill the role.

The previous cabinet member for housing and homelessness, Cllr Farah Hussain (Lab, Valentines), left the role after more than five years on September 30.

She handed in her notice on September 2 and went on leave from September 21, meaning the position has now been empty for three weeks.

In a tweet announcing the news, she said that, while housing remains her “absolute passion”, she wanted to spend more time with her family following the death of her father.

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said on Friday that there was “no set time frame yet” for when her successor would be selected.

In her resignation letter, Cllr Hussain wrote: “The decision to resign from the cabinet was not an easy one for me to make.”

She added that she was “very aware” her departure “imbalances the gender-split in the cabinet and increases the average age”.

According to job descriptions agreed by full council on September 24, cabinet members are meant to “ensure that the council delivers high quality, efficient, value-for-money services”.

Some of their tasks include ensuring spending in their department is within budget and sharing “responsibility for the performance of services”.

The council also has two vacant councillor roles, one previously held by a man facing trial and another by a man who died.

Chaudhary Mohammed Iqbal, former Labour councillor for Loxford ward, is accused of “making false statements in candidate nomination papers” during the 2018 local election.

It is not known how or when he left the role but a notice of “casual vacancy” for his ward was posted on October 7 by chief executive Andy Donald.

Casual vacancies occur when a councillor leaves the role between elections and can happen due to death, resignation, disqualification or other reasons.

Stuart Bellwood, former Labour councillor for Seven Kings, died on August 20, having first been elected in 2002.

The notice of casual vacancy for his ward is also dated October 7.

The notices both state a by-election will take place if written requests are made to Andy Donald by two Redbridge residents eligible to vote in local elections.

Both elections would take place on May 6, 2021, according to the notices.

Mr Iqbal was charged on March 27 but pleaded not guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 22 and elected for a trial by jury.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson previously revealed the charges “relate to false declarations by Iqbal regarding his address”.

In May, a council spokesperson confirmed he was still a councillor.

His trial is set to begin on January 4 at Prospero House, a court set up to handle the overflow of cases at Southwark Crown Court, after being postponed twice due to the pandemic.

Redbridge Council and the Labour party have both been contacted for comment.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter