South Jesmond councillor steps down

Kerry Allibhai has stepped down as South Jesmond Labour councillor to focus on her family life and future career. Her seat will remain unoccupied until the local elections in May 2018.

Allibhai, who is raising two young children, issued this statement: “Having considered my current circumstances, I have decided that it would be unfair to my constituents if I carried on as their elected representative, without being able to give them the time they deserve. It has been a huge privilege to represent them on the City Council.”

Newcastle City Council confirmed that the reason a by-election for the seat is not being held is because Allibhai’s resignation is within six months of the next local elections.

Until the elections next year, Councillors Arlene Ainsley and Felicity Mendelson will continue to represent South Jesmond, a task Cllr Ainsley told JesmondLocal she believes she and Cllr Mendelson are capable of carrying out.

“Kerry, Felicity and I work very closely as a team and often cover duties when one of us isn’t available,” Cllr Ainsley said. “It will mean a bit of additional work but I’m sure that the people of Jesmond will still be very well represented.”

Newcastle City Councillor and Liberal Democrat Greg Stone told JesmondLocal he understood Allibhai’s personal circumstances and believes she was right to step down, but questioned her timing, believing it to have been purposely orchestrated to prevent a by-election.

“It would clearly have been better if she had stood down earlier,” he said. “This is unfortunate as it means that South Jesmond residents will now be under-represented on the council until next May.”

Stone also noted Allibhai’s previous poor attendance at council meetings and believes “residents of South Jesmond will be aware Cllr Allibhai has not made a significant contribution during her time in office.”

South Jesmond resident Dorothy Fellows told JesmondLocal that “my view is, I think she’s doing the right thing to resign.” Fellows said that because of Allibhai’s maternity leave and other commitments she did not engage with the issues of the community, but praised Cllrs Ainsley and Mendelson for their hard work.

Elected in 2015, Allibhai has served on both the Licensing Committee and Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and was described by Newcastle City Council Leader Nick Forbes as having been “a strong campaigner on behalf of residents in South Jesmond and the Labour Party across Newcastle.”

He thanked for her contribution and expressed his support for her decision.