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Complaint made against Slough councillor over Whatsapp message 'attacking' ex-Labour member

James Bagley. Local Democracy Reporter

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An investigation into a Slough Labour councillor is underway for an alleged breach of conduct over a leaked Whatsapp message about a former member.

Former Labour councillor Madhuri Bedi (Foxborough) has lodged an official complaint against councillor Christine Hulme (Lab: Central) after she reportedly sent a Whatsapp message to other Labour members, saying it took Cllr Bedi ‘long enough’ to resign.

Cllr Bedi, who will stand as an independent at the local election, resigned as a Labour member at a full council meeting on March 8 over the party’s proposal to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent and criticised the Labour-run council’s decisions.

After her resignation, Cllr Hulme is said to have sent a message to the local Labour Party’s Whatsapp, saying: "Finally Madhu Bedi has resigned as a Labour member. It took long enough.”

Cllr Bedi told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) she saw this message before she left the chat and lodged an official complaint to the monitoring officer as this was an 'attack' on her and breached the council’s code of conduct that councillors must treat each other with respect.

Slough Borough Council confirmed Cllr Hulme is under investigation by the monitoring officer.

In response to the leaked message, Cllr Hulme accused Cllr Bedi of 'stifling member participation and debate and undermining the democratic process' of the local Labour Party as she “failed” to organise and hold party meetings as chair of the Slough Constituency Labour Party.

Cllr Bedi denies this allegation.

Cllr Hulme said: “Had she [Cllr Bedi] resigned sooner a replacement chairman would have been elected and proper party meeting would have resumed.

“She has had plenty of opportunity over several months to raise her differences or concerns either within the local party or Labour Group. She chose not to do that, as she barely attended or organised any meetings.

“She seems to have deliberately dragged out her resignation for her own political gain in an attempt to undermine her former colleagues.”

Cllr Bedi put down those allegations as efforts to “discredit” her, saying it was not her duty to organise meetings as chairman and is the secretary’s role.

She said: “If I was indeed undermining the democratic process as stated by Cllr Hulme, why was this never raised? There are two further vice chairmans who are also Cllrs, who could have raised concerns, there are approximately 1,500 members all of whom knew I was the chairman yet not one of them contacted me to ask why no meeting had been arranged as did none of the Cllrs including Cllr Hulme.

“If I was as bad as Christine is stating why did members not raise a motion of No Confidence against me?”

As Cllr Bedi will standing as an independent in the upcoming local election, Cllr Hulme told LDRS the Foxborough councillor ‘failed’ her interview in 2019 to stand as a Labour candidate.

Cllr Bedi has confirmed she was not selected to stand as a Labour candidate, stating she failed because the panel felt she had ‘personal disagreement’ with the whip and focused too much on ‘ward issues’.

She added she did appeal the decision, but decided to withdraw, saying: “The reasoning given by the panel for not selecting me did not sit well with me.

“I was not willing to be told I am passionate and dedicated to my residents yet penalised for my honesty and integrity.”

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