Tower Hamlets by-election: Aspire ousts Labour to take Weavers ward
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Labour got a shock as it lost a 'safe' seat on Tower Hamlets Council in a by-election overwhelmingly won by Aspire party activist Kabir Ahmed.
He stormed home taking Bethnal Green's Weavers ward with 1,204 votes — beating Labour's candidate Nasrin Khanam by a clear 462 margin.
Ahmed, a staunch ally of ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman who had been banned from office for five years in 2015, immediately threw down the gauntlet in his acceptance speech that "Aspire is back".
Critics see the return of Aspire, which was the biggest opposition party at the town hall before being wiped out at the 2018 local council elections, as a protest vote against Labour's "Liveable Streets" traffic barrier schemes around Columbia Road and Arnold Circus.
Both Aspire and Tory Elliott Weaver, who polled 360 votes behind Labour's 742, say they picked up support on the doorstep from households claiming the barriers throw traffic onto neighbouring streets instead and were dividing the community.
The new Aspire councillor pledged to end the schemes if his party ousted Labour at next year's council elections with Lutfur Rahman running for mayor again now his Election Court ban has ended.
The by-election result was declared by the council's returning officer Will Tuckley around midnight.
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The dejected Labour candidate left immediately, having already refused an interview with the East London Advertiser. Mayor John Biggs also hurried away.
The by-election followed the sudden death of Labour’s John Pierce on June 10 who had been found dead in his flat in Bethnal Green, nine days after his 40th birthday.
Six people put their hat in the ring for the seat, which Cllr Pierce had held since 2012.
How the people of Weavers ward voted:
Kabir Ahmed (Aspire) 1,204
Kasrin Khanan (Labour) 742
Elliott Weaver (Conservative) 360
Sylvia Bienfait (Green) 205
Emanuel Andjelic (Lib Dem) 50
Hugo Pierre (TU Socialist) 30
The turn-out was almost 28 per cent.