A political battle is heating up in Petersfield, after a former councillor accused her own party of “sexism”.
Last week Ann Sinnott resigned her seat on Cambridge City Council following a row over the rights of transgender people to access to public toilets.
Now, as local campaigners gear up for a by-election, she has quit Labour completely, saying she feels “betrayed” by her party.
Ms Sinnott resigned in protest at the city councils rules for transgender peoples access to public toilets and changing facilities, which allow transgender women to access womens facilities.
She stressed she was “not anti-trans”, but said the council was in breach of the Equalities Act 2010.
She said allowing self-identifying trans-women to use womens facilities where “biological women” would “expect privacy and dignity” could expose them to potential risk.
Now Ms Sinnott has resigned from the Labour Party altogether, saying the decision to allow transgender women to be included in all-women shortlists (AWSs) undermines work to tackle inequality in politics.
In her resignation letter to the party, Ms Sinnott said: “As a woman, feminist and local resident I felt betrayed by the Labour run Cambridge City Council – in which I served as an elected member for more than four years and was re-elected, just a few short weeks ago, with a thumping majority. But I also feel betrayed by the Labour Party.”
Ms Sinnott said a big factor had been the partys decision to allow trans-women to be included on all-women shortlists of candidates. In May Labours NEC (National Executive Committee) passed a statement on all women shortlists, womens officers and minimum quotas for women.
But Labour says the statement “clarifies Labours existing policy. It does not change our policy”.
Her seat will be filled by the winner of a by-election, which will take place on September 13.
The Lib Dem candidate
Former councillor Sarah Brown, who held Petersfield from 2010 to 2014, will contest the seat for the Liberal Democrats.
Ms Brown, who is transgender, started free swimming lessons for underprivileged children and had a key role in introducing the citys 20mph limit on residents streets.
She said: “Petersfield is where I live and I aim to champion it as I already know how – and as I did before."
"In these desperate days of Brexit, the national is also the local. Brexit will make so many things I care about far worse: government austerity, the crisis in the NHS and poor funding for schools and roads. People must use every lever at their disposal – this election included.
How will Brexit affect Cambridge?
“I will be encouraging everyone who wants to see the people have a final say on the deal to vote for me as the only candidate whose party stands for that.”
Referring to the circumstances of the by-election, she added: “I am sad to see the campaign to turn the clock back on the city councils equalities policy which I will resist.
“Its right that the needs and rights of transgender people, along with other groups, are recognised here, as national legislation expects.
“Cambridge has led by example on diversity, tolerance and liberal values, and we must defend that leadership from those who seek to divide us.”
The Labour candidate
Cambridge Labour has announced Kelley Green as their candidate for the election.
A former landscape architect and town planner, she was the project manager for Elys riverside Jubilee Gardens scheme.
In Cambridge she has campaigned for better community facilities, bus services and NHS facilities. She now runs a small business called Cambridge Farmers Outlet.
She said: "I'm so happy to be part of the fantastic Labour team that represents residents across the city. I would be proud to have the opportunity to represent the residents of Petersfield.
“My small business is just opposite the Catholic Church on Hills Road, which brings me in contact with Petersfield residents on a daily basis and keeps me in touch with grassroots issues.
Cambridge City Council
“If elected, I look forward to working with the other ward councillors who work hard year-round, dealing with local issues from traffic and pollution to maintaining and improving our green spaces.
“There are some really exciting developments happening in the ward such as new council housing at Mill Road depot site, and the Chisholm Trail.
“With my local planning experience, I want to make sure that these developments work for the residents of Petersfield, and for the city.
"Cambridge is increasingly a divided city with poverty and affluence existing side by side and I am passionate on making this city fairer for all. If elected, I will build on the hard work that Cambridge Labour has done over the past few years to address this issue.”
No other parties have yet announced their candidates for the election.
Anyone wishing to stand for election in Petersfield must live or work in in Cambridge, and have their nomination approved by at least 10 electors.
Nominations must be received by the city council no later than 4pm on August 16.
For more information or to check if you are registered go to: www.cambridge.gov.uk/elections, email: email@example.com or phone 01223 457048.
Petersfield residents who are not yet registered to vote are being urged to do so by August 28. People can register online at www.register-to-vote.gov.uk or by phoning 01223 457048 for a paper application form.