Lambeth’s former deputy mayor, who stepped down after being arrested for an alleged assault, has insisted she has “no qualms” about being ousted from her role.
Councillor Judy Best, who represents Streatham Wells ward, said she was “happy” to support her fellow Liberal Democrat councillor Clive Bennett in his new role as Lambeth’s mayor, despite her party claiming she was entitled to the position.
Liberal Democrat group leader and Streatham Hill councillor, Ashley Lumsden, nominated Coun Best to be Lambeth’s new ceremonial chief at the borough’s annual mayoral meeting in Brixton last Wednesday, April 18.
But Labour councillors overwhelmingly rejected calls to reinstate her, with council leader Steve Reed claiming she failed to clarify that her resignation was “temporary”.
The three parties in Lambeth; Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative, have said they will rotate the position annually and agreed that each elected deputy mayor will be promoted to mayor the following year.
In a speech to councillors, Coun Lumsden heralded Coun Best, who resigned as deputy mayor in November after being accused of attacking a man outside her home in Madeira Road, as a “champion of her ward”.
Charges were never brought against her, but her sons are currently serving prison sentences for their involvement in the incident.
Commenting on the outcome of the vote, Coun Best said she “had not done anything wrong” and was a “victim” in the assault case.
She added some Labour black and ethnic minority councillors had shown their support for her by abstaining or even voting for her.
She said: “It was about the principle of it - to make the statement the mayoralty should be our decision not the Labour party. It was about showing [them] they could not push us about.
“I am quite happy Clive is the Mayor. He has lived in Lambeth for 40 years. I wish him well. I have no qualms about it at all.”
Streatham South councillor Mark Bennett was elected as the borough’s next deputy mayor at the same meeting.