Shelina Akhtar: Disgraced benefit fraud councillor hangs onto Spitalfields and Banglatown ward

Disgraced benefit fraud councillor Shelina Akhtar has yet to resign - leaving a question mark over when a possible by-election for her seat could be held.

Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour opposition, Joshua Peck, is urging the borough’s Mayor to make her to resign to pave the way for a possible by-election on May 3 to coincide with the London Mayoral election.

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman says he has already urged the independent Spitalfields and Banglatown councillor to resign.

“I can’t do more than that,” he said.

But Cllr Peck said: “If the Mayor really wanted to he can put pressure on her to resign. I suspect her vote at council is more important to him.

“A by-election on a separate day would be a colossal waste of public money and less democratic as less people are likely to turn out.”

Once a vacancy for a council seat arises a by-election must normally be held within 35 days. But Cllr Peck wants the Town Hall to ask the Home Office for an extension.

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Cllr Akhtar received a three-and-half month jail sentence for claiming benefits while living with her mother and subletting her housing association flat.

She has until next week to lodge an appeal and can continue as a councillor during any appeal process.