Democracy in Sandwell 'ditched' as Labour meeting abandoned
Labour party members who say they were left in the dark over a ditched branch meeting united in fury as they claimed "democracy doesn't apply in Sandwell".
"Furious" members gathered in protest after the Warley Labour branch’s annual general meeting was cancelled, with less than 24 hours notice.
But the 1,200 branch members - which includes Smethwick, Abbey, Soho Victoria, St Paul's and Old Warley - are yet to discover why the meeting was abandoned and without a new date suggested.
It comes after it was revealed Sandwell Council's deputy leader Syeda Khatun had stepped down but will continue her Tipton Green ward duties.
'Democracy doesn't seem to apply in Sandwell'
Gurinder Singh Josan, of the St Paul's group, said: "This comes on the back of everything else going on in Sandwell, where democracy is being cancelled.
"We are not being told anything. Democracy doesn't seem to apply in Sandwell and Warley.
"It's disappointing. The Labour Party is a democratic party, we are about members leading the way and making decisions."
About 20 members gathered outside Oldbury's Samson Banqueting Suite, where the meeting was set to take place, on Thursday evening.
Mr Josan, who is vice-chairman of Sikhs for Labour, said some members had taken days off work or arranged cover, and made childcare plans to attend the meeting.
It was claimed others, without internet access, were not made aware of the ditched AGM as the notice was only circulated via email.
A Labour source said the meeting was pulled due to "irregularities" and insisted efforts were made to contact members.
The source said: "It was down to irregularities and correspondence from concerned members and branches.
"Ultimately the regional office had no choice but to postpone the meeting.
"Every effort was made to contact the membership."
The cancelled meeting came just weeks after St Paul's branch AGM was postponed without explanation.
John Kelly, policy officer for the Abbey ward, said he was "furious" and added: "It's just incompetence to leave it to the last minute, it's just not good enough.
"Clearly rules have been broken and the regional officers have been left with no choice."
The email sent by West Midlands Labour Party's regional director Fadel Takrouri said: "The constituency Labour Party AGM for Warley which is due to be held tomorrow evening (July 18) has been postponed.
"You will receive further correspondence with a re-arranged date. Sorry for the inconvenience."