Brent councillor defects from Labour to the Liberal Democrats

Cllr Dhiraj Kataria swithes from Labour to Lib Dem

Cllr Dhiraj Kataria swithes from Labour to Lib Dem - Credit: Archant

A Neasden councillor has defected from Labour and joined the Liberal Democrats.

Cllr Dhiraj Kataria, who represents the Welsh Harp ward, said: “I have become increasingly disillusioned by the way the Brent Labour Group has operated – and particularly by the top-down way in which it has been led.

“I feel decisions taken by the Labour Group and Labour Executive members, such as closing half our libraries and cutting street cleaning, have been against the interests of my constituents.”

The Lib Dems have welcomed the move claiming the councillor had a “ringside view” of Labour’s mistakes in the borough.

Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of the Brent Lib Dem group, said: “I am delighted to welcome him into the Liberal Democrats.

“He has a record of service on the council, particularly on the planning committee where he has stood up for local residents and as vice-chairman of the important budget and finance overview and scrutiny committee.”

In July this year Cllr Kataria apologised to a resident after telling him to ‘go to hell’ in an email exchange.

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Last year, he was investigated by the council’s Standards Committee after he alleged Cllr Ann John, who was the then leader of Brent Council, told him how to vote over the application for the Hindu Sai Baba Temple in Wembley in 2010.

The investigation found Cllr Kataria’s evidence to be inconsistent and without credence and Cllr John was exonerated of any misconduct.

Cllr Kataria’s switch comes after his omission from representing a ward in Brent by the Labour Group.

Cllr Mohammed Butt, leader of Brent Council said: “If he chooses to join the Lib Dems after working for the Labour party since 1986 and drop all his values and all his concern for the residents of Brent, to help support a coalition government and a Lib Dem party that is devastating the residents of Brent, then that’s his choice.’’

This is the second time a Labour councillor in the Welsh Harp ward has defected in four years.

In 2009 Francis Eniola crossed the floor to join the Conservative Party.

However he quit the Tories in 2011 saying he was ashamed of the way the coalition government were behaving.