Two Merton councillors resign for General Election ambitions, with one standing in seat 65 miles away

St Helier Avenue
-Credit: (Image: Helena Dollimore)

Labour Councillors Natasha Irons, of the Figges Marsh ward, and Helena Dollimore, of the St Helier ward, announced their resignation via Merton Council’s website today (Thursday, May 30). Both councillors had made clear their intentions to stand as prospective parliamentary candidates ahead of the General Election announcement last week. Irons, first elected to represent the Ravensbury ward in 2018, will stand as the Labour candidate in the newly created Croydon East constituency.

Irons, who has family from Croydon, has previously served as Merton’s Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces. Following her 2022 election to the Figges Marsh Ward, she took on the expanded role of Cabinet Member for Local Environment, Green Spaces and Climate Change until her resignation.

Irons’ selection for the Croydon East constituency came amid a Met Police investigation into the party's stalled selection process. The investigation found some of the personal details of members in the constituency were altered on the Labour Party membership database without authorisation.

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Natasha Irons
Natasha Irons is running as the Labour candidate for the newly created Croydon East constituency -Credit:Merton Council

Council Leader Ross Garrod acknowledged Irons's work in the borough in a statement published to X today (May 30). He said: “From helping breathe new life into Mitcham Town Centre, and working to ensure everyone in Figge’s Marsh has a safe, warm and secure place to call home, to investing in our much-loved parks, delivering 10,00 new trees in just one year…Natasha has a long list of achievements to be proud of.”

Dollimore was first elected to the St Helier ward in 2021 after a by-election was triggered because the previous councillor Kelly Braund moved to Scotland. During her first term, Dollimore was appointed to the Labour-run Council’s Healthier Communities and Older People Overview and Scrutiny Panel.

Like Irons, Dollimore was re-elected to the same ward in 2022 and served on the Licensing Committee. However, following her appointment in June 2022 Dollimore failed to attend a single licensing sub-committee.

Dollimore’s absence had led some residents to express concerns that she was more interested in her ambition to become an MP in the Hastings and Rye constituency. This was despite her initial campaign promise in her St Helier election leaflet saying: “I promise I will be in the community with you.”

Furthermore, Dollimore announced her MP candidacy almost a month after her 2022 re-election. This led to anger from residents who thought she intended to collect her yearly £8,694 allowance while focusing on her parliamentary candidacy instead of issues in the ward.

Dollimore claims that she spent her lockdown as a volunteer vaccinating in Hastings, 65 miles from her St Helier ward. Philipa Maslin, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Mitcham and Morden, believes Dollimore has a record of absence in the ward and welcomed the upcoming by-election.

Merton Council
Merton councillor Helena Dollimore is Labour's parliamentary candidate in Hastings and Rye -Credit:Merton Council

Speaking to the local democracy reporting service, Maslin said: “I have lived in the St Helier ward since 2013 and am of the view that Helena Dollimore is one of a long line of Labour Councillors whose complacency and lack of activity in the ward has been pronounced.“

Maslin, who ran against Dollimore in 2022, added: “As her posts on X demonstrate clearly, her focus has long been her ambition to become Hastings and Rye's MP. I welcome her resignation and the forthcoming by-election.”

Despite this, Garrod was quick to praise Dollimore’s political record in the borough. He said: “From making St Helier Avenue safer by securing the lowering of the speed limit, to delivering investment to Morden Rec and campaigning to save St Helier Hospital. Helena has a record to be proud of.”

Speaking of both councillors, Garrod added: “I’d like to place on record my deep gratitude to Natasha and Helena for their years of service to the people of Merton.

“The role of a councillor is not an easy one - for most, it is done in addition to regular day jobs, so it takes real commitment and desire to serve your local community. Both have done Merton and themselves proud, and I wish them the best for the future.”

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