Portsmouth Labour councillor deselected after three years in the role

Labour councillor Yahiya Chowdhury on election night in 2015. Picture: Sarah Standing (150825-8133)
Labour councillor Yahiya Chowdhury on election night in 2015. Picture: Sarah Standing (150825-8133)
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A LABOUR councillor has been deselected with a member of the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting Momentum group chosen to fight next year’s election in his place.

But the Labour party in Portsmouth are remaining tight-lipped as to why they did not re-select Councillor Yahiya Chowdhury to fight for his own seat.

Cllr Chowdhury, who was voted on to Portsmouth City Council in 2015, lost the candidacy after a Momentum activist was chosen in his place.

It’s understood social housing activist Cal Corkery, a member of Portsmouth Momentum, will now battle to keep the seat for Labour in next year’s election.

Cllr Chowdhury remains a Labour councillor for Charles Dickens ward.

He said: 'I am proud of the work I have done for my ward, for my community and my party in the last three years.

‘When I was voted in I was the only Labour councillor in my ward, and now there are two of us.

'I am also the only ethnic minority councillor in Portsmouth, that was important to a lot of my community.

'It is disappointing but I believe I have made my community proud. We are here so we can contribute to them.

'I don't know what I will do next.'

Cllr Chowdhury works alongside Labour councillor Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, and independent councillor Claire Udy, who was a Labour candidate in the election, in the ward.

Mr Morgan said: 'I want to pay tribute to Cllr Yahiya Chowdhury for his dedication and service as a councillor, group colleague and friend for the last three years, and for his continued actions to improve lives for the community in Charles Dickens ward and across our city.

'I’m looking forward to continuing to working with him in the months ahead and hope to see he’ll stand for the party again in the near future.'

Portsmouth Labour would not comment on a new candidate for the ward, stating: 'We are currently full steam ahead in the process to select candidates for the local elections in 2019.'

But Cllr Udy revealed that local housing activist and Momentum member, Cal Corkery, was in the running. 'I am delighted at Cal's selection and absolutely have no doubt whatsoever that he will be a fantastic councillor in Charles Dickens,' she said.

Cllr Udy added: 'I think a staple of work as a councillor is to attend community groups and meetings as much as possible to get a hold of those issues and some of those groups haven't even been attended to by Cllr Chowdhury's term of councillor.

'Since I have been a councillor myself I feel lonely within my ward and appreciate the help and support from ward colleagues.

'Unfortunately when one doesn't show up in the local community and the other is busy as an MP, it puts a lot of pressure on myself to maintain good relationships with residents whilst fighting the inequality in the area, and trying to get a better deal for those disenfranchised by eight years of austerity.'