Redbridge Labour councillor quits party over claims she ‘felt like outsider’

A Redbridge councillor has quit the Labour Party, saying that she was made to “feel like an outsider” by party members.

Rosa Gomez will now sit as an independent councillor for the Churchfields ward in Woodford, having withdrawn her membership from the party and Redbridge Labour.

She is the second elected member to resign from the party, following councillor Shanell Johnson’s exit in December last year over her dissatisfaction with the council’s leadership.

She said she was leaving the party over the “ill treatment I have received from the leadership in Redbridge” in a statement, posted to X (formerly Twitter) on June 10.

Cllr Gomez, who was near-fatally attacked in her native Columbia in 2010, said: “I am a disabled woman, but reasonable adjustments were often not made to allow me to fully participate in council meetings.

“Worse, I have experienced bullying and harassment from some in my own party, making me feel like an outsider within the Labour group.”

She made special mention of the recent deselection of Labour’s former candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, Faiza Shaheen, who is now standing as an independent.

Offering her personal support for Shaheen’s campaign, she said the candidate’s accusations of discrimination against the Labour Party “resonate with my own experience in Redbridge Labour”.

Faiza Shaheen was controversially deselected as the Labour candidate in May after allegedly ‘liking’ antisemitic posts.

Shama Tatler, a Brent councillor, will challenge incumbent Conservative Iain Duncan-Smith in her place at the general election on July 4.

She has received support from both Waltham Forest and Redbridge councillors, including respective council leaders Grace Williams and Ilford South candidate Jas Athwal.

In July last year, Cllr Gomez – a party member since 1975 – was suspended by Redbridge Labour over allegations of racism but was cleared six months later.

At the time, a Labour source told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that she was being “almost persecuted” by Redbridge Labour, despite working “incredibly hard” for residents and winning two local elections.

Closing out her statement, she said: “It was an honour and privilege to have been elected as a Labour councillor for Churchfields in 2018, and again in 2022, when I received the second highest vote of any candidate in the whole of Redbridge.

“I have built lots of relationships in the ward and have got to know many of you during coffee mornings and other activities. However, I look forward to serving my residents as an independent member going forward.”

Redbridge Council is now comprised of 55 Labour councillors, five Conservatives, and three independents: Cllr Gomez, Cllr Johnson, and Kabir Mahmud.

Redbridge Labour did not respond to a request for comment.

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter

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