Charedi councillor to stand as independent after Tory deselection
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A Charedi councillor in Hackney is standing as an independent in the local elections after being deselected by the Conservatives.
Shimon Tesler, a Tory representative on the Labour-controlled council since 2002, hopes for re-election in the solidly Conservative Lordship ward.
In a letter to voters, he lashed out at local Tory leaders, claiming he was dropped for spending "a disproportionate" amount of time representing Charedi interests.
"I take this criticism as a compliment," he wrote. "I am proud to have been able to serve the Charedi community and to champion their needs and causes in every possible way."
He asked constituents: "Who would you prefer? Myself who has a proven track record and who places the interests of the Charedi community as top priority." Or an "untested" Conservative candidate.
Mr Tesler, who remains a Conservative Party member, says his campaign is backed by local religious leaders and believes stands a good chance of success.
"When the community votes, it is not so much the party it is concerned about but a candidate who will deal with their needs."
Hackney Council's Tory group leader Matthew Coggins maintained that "Mr Tesler was deselected not because of the time he spent representing the strictly Orthodox community but because of his lack of attendance at council meetings.
"We represent the interests of the community as a whole and are very active in dealing with the needs of the Charedi community."
Another Orthodox councillor to jump ship is Joseph Stauber (Cazenove ward), who quit the small Liberal Democrat group to join Labour. A Labour official said his defection would help the party build relations with Charedim, who have mostly voted Tory or Liberal Democrat.
Ian Sharer, the strictly Orthodox leader of Hackney Lib Dems, said he was puzzled by Mr Stauber's decision. Mr Sharer is standing for re-election in Cazenove and his wife Bella is contesting the Brownswood ward.
Leading local personality and former Labour councillor Rabbi Avraham Pinter was "very disappointed" that Mr Stauber had not been put up for election by his new party, which enjoys a healthy majority on the council.