Robin Wales, the longest-serving and one of the most controversial Labour mayors in Britain has been forced from his post in a party selection contest.
Wales has long attracted widespread condemnation over his refusal to relinquish control of Newham Council, one of the safest in the country. But in an internal party selection of candidates for the May local elections his 23-long tenure was brought to an end by Rokhsana Fiaz, a councillor in the east London borough for four years.
A former charity worker, Fiaz is reportedly associated with Momentum, the pressure group responsible for organising Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victories.
In one of her first pledges Fiaz pledged support for a referendum on the mayoral system and said she wanted Labour to unite and be “truly radical again”. She said her first priority would be an “ambitious” programme of house building, with a target of 1,000 over her first four years. She claims there is enough land in the borough to build 35,000 new homes.
Wales was credited with transforming the run-down borough, though much of the improvement came with the 2012 Olympic Games and the subsequent London Stadium. Though popular among many members, he made enemies among those who regarded his leadership as too forthright and autocratic.
Newham Labor Party has 59 councillors out of 60, an historical balance that has lasted decades.