The Evening Standard ran a story questioning the Conservative leadership in Wandsworth yesterday.
The leader of a flagship Conservative London council is facing a mutiny due to fears the party could lose control to Labour.
Ravi Govindia, who has been at the helm of Wandsworth council for nearly a decade, faces a motion of no confidence tomorrow evening when the Conservatives meet for their regular group meeting, the Standard has learned.
He became leader in May 2011 when he replaced Sir Edward Lister, who is now Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief strategic adviser.
Labour is said to be “nipping at the heels” of the Conservatives following the 2018 local elections, when they increased their councillors by seven and won the popular vote.
They now have 26 councillors, just seven behind the Tories on 33. The Conservatives have controlled the council since 1978.
Ravi Govindia is the Leader of Wandsworth Council (Jeremy Selwyn)Putney, the former seat of ex-Tory cabinet minister Justine Greening, was lost to Labour in last month’s General Election, in the party’s only gain from the Conservatives. All three of Wandsworth’s parliamentary seats are now held by Labour MPs.
A Tory source said there was no “personal hostility” towards Mr Govindia, who they described as “doing a good job”, but added: “There is a good chance he will lose... there is a feeling that they need a more effective salesperson. Nobody wants to be the Conservative team that loses Wandsworth.”
It is understood a number of councillors are worried that unless there is a change, the party will not be running the town hall at the next local elections in 2022. The borough — which was famously Margaret Thatcher’s “favourite council” — is still described as a “success” with one of the lowest council tax rates in the country.
But it is said that members were “spooked” by their losses in the last local elections.
If Mr Govindia survives tomorrow’s motion he could still face a challenge at the Tory councillors’ annual meeting in May.
Simon Hogg, Wandsworth Labour leader, said: “Wandsworth Tories have stopped listening to local people and now they’ve started fighting among themselves. Residents won’t be impressed.”
Photo: Ravi Govindia Credit: Jeremy Selwyn