Sole Liberal Democrat Brent councillor to become an independent

Cllr Helen Carr has become a Lib Dem

Cllr Helen Carr has become a Lib Dem - Credit: Archant

The last remaining Liberal Democrat councillor in Brent is leaving her party to stand as an independent.

Cllr Helen Carr, who represents Mapesbury, will no longer serve her party.

The announcement was made at Brent Council’s full meeting last night where Cllr Carr gave no explanation for her decision to stand down.

It is the first time the council has no sitting Lib Dem councillors since 1982.

She told the Times: “To be independent is the best way for me. They are the largest group, larger than the Libdems in the local government organisation.

“I think I can achieve more as an independent than I can achieve as a Liberal Democrat. As far as Mapesbury is concerned it’s business as usual.

“As far as Brent, the wider borough, I can achieve more in the time that I have left. It’s residents that pay my wages, that’s how I looked at it.”

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Of the party she has represented for two years she said: “Many people are really angry about Brexit, having their views disregarded. I’m a Remainer, it’s not that I’m in favour of Brexit but I represent a party that in the public’s eyes are trying to reverse the democratic process.

“There is real war brewing in Europe, Nato troops are lining the Russian borders, of course we are impacted by whatever happens in Europe but you have to respect the public’s decision.”

A newcomer in 2014, Cllr Carr won her seat in a local election that almost wiped out the Liberal Democrats in the borough.

A total of 15 Lib Dem councillors lost their seat.

Paul Lorber, a former leader of the council and leader of the group in Brent lost his seat after 32 years making Cllr Carr leader by default.

Cllr Carr, who has a doctorate in Anthropology and is a research Associate of the University of Oxford’s School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, said: “I worked with Sarah Teather on the education review, and when I returned from Papua New Guinea in 2013 I was asked to stand as a councillor.

“I’d never given it much thought before and I thought yes, why not. I did the work and to their horror and my surprise not only did I get in but I was the only one who got in.

It’s not about status, it’s about what you can do and as an Independent councillor I can continue my human rights work and protection of minority groups.

“Historically, groups I work with such as Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Roma have suffered deprivation, discrimination and in the Roma case especially, persecution and genocide. Those times are upon us again. I look forward to working with all political parties.”