Councillor dedicates by-election win to daughter

Cllr Charlene McLean at Thursday's election count

Cllr Charlene McLean at Thursday's election count - Credit: Andrew Baker

Newly re-elected Labour councillor Charlene McLean has dedicated her by-election win to her “beautiful daughter” Esme.

It was her daughter’s difficult and premature birth that caused the new mum to be ousted from the Stratford and New Town seat in controversial circumstances.

She described the feeling of reclaiming her seat as “a huge relief”, adding: “People asked me why I was standing again. Why I didn’t take time out to be a mother.

“I took my inspiration from my daughter to fight for my seat again. She was born weighing one pound four and fought for her life, and I wanted to fight for my seat.”

Cllr McLean was elected during last year’s council elections, but stopped attending meetings in June due to pregnancy complications.

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She only found out that she was not entitled to maternity leave when she returned to take up her seat in December, when she also learned she would lose it.

The decision was condemned by Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales.

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After being selected by the Labour party to represent them in Thursday’s by-election, she ended the night with almost double the 2,582 votes she received in 2014.

Cllr McLean, who polled 4,607 votes (56.6 per cent) during the by-election, said during her acceptance speech that she did not think she would be standing on the stage again in the Lee Valley VeloPark a year on from her previous win.

Despite eventually winning the highest number of votes of any currently sitting councillor, she said she did not take her win for granted.

“You never know what can happen,” she said. “It’s very humbling to think that so many people came out and voted for me.

“I’ve worked hard as a councillor since 2010, but I don’t take it for granted.”

She said one of the key issues that came up during her door-stepping was that of affordable housing and said she intended to campaign about at the town hall once more.

Her re-election means that Labour once again have a full complement of 60 councillors from the party representing all of the borough’s 20 wards.

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