Four candidates have put their names forward to succeed Tonia Ashikodi as the councillor for Glyndon ward, a week after the Labour representative was given a suspended sentence for housing fraud.
Ashikodi, 31, was found guilty last month on two counts of fraud by misrepresentation after applying for and accepting council housing while owning three other properties. Greenwich Council estimated her fraud had cost taxpayers £67,000. She did not resign her position until last week, when she was given an 18-month sentence, suspended for two years, and a community service order at Inner London Crown Court. Her resignation opened the way for the by-election, which will be held on Thursday 9 April.
Residents hoping for an independent candidate will be disappointed, with Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens each standing a candidate. Nominations were confirmed on Friday afternoon, although they have not yet been published on the Greenwich Council website. The ward covers parts of Plumstead and west Thamesmead, stretching from the river to Plumstead Common.
Labour is standing Sandra Bauer, a PR and marketing executive who is a former Bexley councillor – she represented the safe Labour seat of Thamesmead East for eight years until 2014.
Naveed Mughal, an accountant and former special constable, will stand for the Conservatives. Stewart Christie – who stood in the ward in the 2018 election for the now-deregistered Plumstead Party – returns to the Liberal Democrats, for whom he stood in the 2016 by-election that saw Ashikodi first elected.
The Greens are standing Leonie Barron, who also stood in Glyndon in 2018. Barron has also stood for the Lib Dems, in Shooters Hill in 2010 and in a by-election in Plumstead in 2008.
Of the four candidates, only Christie lives in the ward itself, while Bauer and Barron live in next-door Shooters Hill. Mughal’s address is simply given as being in Greenwich borough.
Ashikodi won 2,386 votes – nearly 65 per cent of the vote – in 2018’s council election, when three candidates stood for each party except the Greens. She was 1,812 votes ahead of her nearest party rival, Christie, then with the Plumstead Party, who polled 574. Just over 100 votes separated the remaining Plumstead Party, Conservative and Green candidates. The Lib Dems finished at the bottom of the pile, with their highest-polling candidate getting just 169 votes.
The election goes ahead despite Friday’s decision to postpone the mayoral and London Assembly election – due for May 7 – for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak. As the order has already been made for the by-election, it can only be overturned by parliament or a court order, the council’s elections boss James Pack told councillors on Thursday.
(Update: The by-election was postponed on 17 March.)
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