Peninsula ward councillor Mary Mills has been deselected by her local Labour party this evening, as the battles within Greenwich Council’s ruling party to stand in next year’s poll get ever more vicious.
One of the very few Greenwich backbench councillors with a profile beyond her local party, she has served the area on the council since winning a by-election in 2000, but has been involved in community work in the area for decades, and is also well-known as a local historian.
New faces Denise Scott-McDonald, Stephen Brain and Chris Lloyd will represent Labour in east Greenwich and Charlton in May 2014’s election. Fellow councillor Dick Quibell is stepping down, while Miranda Williams has switched to next-door Charlton ward.
It won’t be Lloyd’s first election – he stood for Brecon and Radnorshire in the 2010 general election and the 2011 Welsh election, twice coming third behind the Lib Dems and the Tories.
The news will come as a shock to many, and Mills carries a hefty personal vote in the ward. But this website understands the selections for Labour candidates so far have been arguably even more ill-tempered than the actual election is likely to be, and the views of voters outside are unlikely to have counted for much.
In 2007, the Greenwich Phantom wrote:
“This woman deserves a medal. Whatever political persuasion you are, whatever you think of the rest of Greenwich Council, Mary Mills is gold.
“Why? Because she actually gives a damn. She lives locally, and the things she has to decide on directly affect her.
“I have lost count of the anecdotal accounts of people for whom she has gone that extra mile on a personal basis – from major issues to tiny details – if you email her, she’s onto your case immediately (and I mean immediately – someone I know told me she once replied within five minutes) and even if she doesn’t entirely agree with your cause she will make an effort to understand and help, burning shoe leather where necessary.
“Mary Mills is a fine local councillor who cares what happens in her community – something which it could be argued possibly throws some of her colleagues into unfavourable relief.”
Perhaps her record of hard work and actually communicating with people – including keeping a blog and using Twitter when colleagues more than four decades younger than her were too shy to do so – counted against her.
She has also publicly spoken against the Silvertown Tunnel plans – while it’s believed her three replacements are against the council-backed scheme, it remains to be seen whether or not they will speak out against it.
Long-standing readers will know I ran against Mary in 2010’s council election for the Greens. One of my clearest memories of that time was taking part in a hustings at the Forum in east Greenwich. I remember Mary joining us – her opponents – in the pub for a chat afterwards, while the other Labour candidates skulked off elsewhere, something I thought spoke volumes about her.
So, the election just got interesting – and Tory and Green ears will have perked up tonight, along with anyone else in that area with reason to have a go at the council.
The three Peninsula candidates, saddled with a council pushing a policy in Silvertown that will do lasting damage to their ward, will have a lot of work to do.
9.35am update: Mary has now posted on her own site: “There are lots of interesting things which could do with an airing…”
1.05pm update: The Greenwich Phantom: “Mary needs to strike out as an independent.
2.10pm update News Shopper: “I have tried very hard to serve the people of east Greenwich – but clearly didn’t do it well enough.”