The police are investigating allegations over the conduct of last May’s local elections in Lambeth’s Gipsy Hill ward, where Matthew Bennett – whose state-funded day-job is as the “head of office” for Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE – was elected as a Labour councillor.
Bennett is now the cabinet member for housing in Labour-controlled Lambeth.
In a statement issued to another hyperlocal website, Brixton Buzz, the Metropolitan Police said, “We can confirm we have received an allegation that a candidate in the recent local elections in Lambeth was ineligible to stand for election. Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations Command are investigating the allegation and enquiries continue.”
In Gipsy Hill ward, which borders Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, Bennett was elected alongside Niranjan Francis and Jennifer Brathwaite. The police declined to identify which of the three elected Gipsy Hill councillors may be the subject of their investigation.
It is the second police investigation into the Lambeth local elections, following the failure of another Labour councillor, Sonia Winifred in Knight’s Hill ward, to realise that she could not stand in the council elections while being employed by the council as a teaching assistant. As a consequence, a by-election has been called in Knight’s Hill for next month, at a cost of almost £15,000 to Council Tax-payers.
The police are no longer pursuing their enquiries in Knight’s Hill, according to Brixton Buzz.
Labour won 59 of the available 63 council seats in May in Lambeth, where from 2002 to 2006 the council was run by a Conservative and LibDem coalition. In 2014, all 15 remaining LibDem councillors in Lambeth lost their seats as Labour steamrollered their way to a near one-party borough.
Knight’s Hill and Gipsy Hill shared the same Labour election agent, responsible for managing the campaign.
Inside Croydon contacted Reed’s parliamentary office to give Bennett an opportunity to comment, but received no response by the time we published this report.
Coming to Croydon
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- CODA’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Wandle Park, Jul 30-Aug 2
- David Lean Cinema: Locke, July 31
- Mind-Loosening Workshop, Aug 2
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Aug 2
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Aug 4
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 6
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 13
- Mind-Loosing Workshop, Aug 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Aug 16
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 20
- Mythical Maze stories, Crystal Palace Maze, Aug 27
- Upper Norwood Library well-being groups, Aug 30
- Warlingham rugby dinner with international Richard Hill, Sep 12
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Sep 20
- Streatham Common 6M race, Sep 27
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Cinema Ruskin film show, Oct 18
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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