Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales deselected after 23 years in power

Britain’s longest serving mayor has been deselected by the Labour Party after 23 years in power. 

Sir Robin Wales led the Labour strong-hold of Newham Council since 1995, and became the borough’s directly elected mayor in 2002. 

Councillor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, who has been backed by Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing campaign group Momentum, will now be Labour’s candidate going into the May local elections. 

If elected it is understood she would be the first black or ethnic minority woman directly elected female mayor in Europe.

Ms Fiaz said today: “I want to thank Labour party members in Newham for putting their trust and hope in me as their candidate for Mayor of Newham.  

“I can’t wait to start working with members and residents to build a Newham that offers homes for our residents and a future for all our young people. 

“Let’s unite and work together for Labour’s success at the local elections in May. It’s time to be truly radical again and show what Labour can achieve for the many here in Newham.

“I’d like to thank Robin for his commitment and dedication to Newham as both leader of the Council and directly elected Mayor. I look forward to working with him over the coming months to  build on his legacy.”

Ms Fiaz is a former charity and public relations worker who grew up in East Ham.  She now lives in Forest Gate and has been on the council since 2014.

She has said she wants to focus on building more social housing and would also hold a referendum on whether the directly elected mayor’s post should continue.

Sir Robin, 63, said: “I would like to congratulate Rokhsana for her successful campaign. Being a Labour Mayor has been a great privilege and I want to thank all of those who have been with me throughout this journey, and all of those that helped on my campaign.

“I am so proud of everything that my administration has achieved.”

He said his local party had descended into “internal sniping and disputes” over the past few months.

He said:  “Moving forward we must now focus on uniting the party and delivering for the people of Newham. Rokhsana has made some ambitious promises that clearly Labour members supported, and I look forward to seeing Rokhsana face the bigger test of putting these ambitious targets to the residents of Newham.”

Labour party members in Newham were able to vote for who they wanted to be their candidate for mayor for the first time since the post was created. 

Sir Robin had been automatically reselected, but this year an open selection process was triggered when all 20 ward parties and the majority of affiliate organisations voted that Sir Robin should be challenged. 

Ms Fiaz took 861 votes to Sir Robin’s 503. 

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