A RULING political party has fallen into disarray as a battle over a borough’s leadership commences.

A second Slough Labour Group AGM was abandoned on Wednesday night, amid shouting and hostility, and calls for the current Slough Borough Council leader to step down from his post.

Cllr Rob Anderson and Cllr James Swindlehurst were out-voted as leader and deputy leader of the Slough Labour Group, during a stormy AGM on Saturday morning. However, under current rules they retain their titles of leader and deputy of the council – much to the frustration of some Labour members.

An anonymous Labour activist raised concerns about the detrimental impact two leaders – one of the ruling political party and one of the council – might have on the town.

He said: “Effectively you’re looking at two Labour groups. If the leading party are too busy fighting one another, important decisions won’t be made and it will impact on Slough residents.”

Cllr Sohail Munawar, representing the Elliman ward, claimed victory as Labour Group leader with 20 votes to 12 with Cllr Sabia Hussain, former commissioner for health and wellbeing, and representing the central ward, was appointed as deputy leader.

According to the constitution, the leader of the council must be elected for a four-year term of office and Cllr Anderson is not due to relinquish his current duties until 2018. Labour councillors have reported it is this that is causing a divide in the party.

Wal Chahal, re-elected as leader of Slough Conservative Party on Monday, said: “I’m quite appalled. What this is telling us is that we could not have our leader in cabinet if we became the ruling party. That is not democracy.”

The idea of the original change in the constitution was to provide a more stable, consistent leadership, with an ability to work with long-term objectives.

Instances where this can be resolved include if the leader of the council resigns, if they are no longer a member, if there is a resolution of the council or if they are disqualified by law. A fifth scenario would be if a motion to remove the leader is put forward, requiring at least five signatures from members.

Cllr Anderson was leader of the Labour Group for 15 years and Cllr Swindlehurst was deputy for 12 years. No response was received from either councillors, nor from Cllr Munawar and Cllr Hussain, despite repeated attempts made by The Observer.