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By-election for seat of ‘unfit’ expelled councillor
A BY-ELECTION is to be held for the seat of an expelled Liberal Democrat councillor facing a series of allegations.
Councillor Sera Kentman, who represented Whitefoot ward in Lewisham, was axed from her party in March after breaching rules, which included failing to disclose her debts as a councillor.
Other allegations against Ms Kentman include having four false identities, a £9,000 overpayment of housing benefit on a house she part-owned and outstanding council tax payments back dating more than a year.
News of the by-election comes after Councillor Kentman failed to attend the council for six months.
In a letter to council chief executive Barry Quirk, Labour Councillor Alan Hall requested a by-election be held.
He said: "I believe it is time to start the process to elect a new councillor who is able to legally and properly represent the people of Whitefoot ward."
"I think it is a very serious matter to have an alleged "ineligible person" still elected onto Lewisham Council and casts a shadow over the integrity of the council, bringing it into disrepute.
Cllr Hall said: "Along with the allegations against former Liberal Democrat Cllr Kentman, she has shamelessly pocketed council taxpayers' cash while failing to represent the public in Whitefoot ward in Catford."
On Monday, Mr Quirk emailed Cllr Hall to say that he would be contacting Cllr Kentman and a vacancy would be declared yesterday.
Ms Kentman was found to be an undischarged bankrupt, who may have stood illegally at last May's elections.
Under Section 80 of the Local Goverment Act 1972, no-one can stand in an election as a councillor if they are an undischarged bankrupt.
Expelling her, Lewisham Council's Liberal Democrat leader Mark Morris said: "We have a rule book and she has breached it. We had no choice but to expel her from the group.
"She has been evasive to her own fellow councillors and is not fit to be a Liberal Democrat councillor or any other councillor of a political party."
In March, insolvency practitioner Keith Stevens, who dealt with the case, confirmed a Julia Kibris, one of the other names used by Cllr Kentman, was made bankrupt in 2004 and was still an undischarged bankrupt.
Usually, when people declare themselves bankrupt, they are automatically discharged from their debts after a year.
But Mr Stevens confirmed this one year rule did not apply to Cllr Kentman because she failed to comply with the conditions of a court order made in April 2004.
Conditions included meeting the official receiver's requests and giving income payments, which was agreed at the time of the order made by Croydon County Court.
The Individual Insolvency Register lists Sera Kentman and her alternative names Julia Kibris, Hulya Kibris, Feliz Guner and Hulya Guner.
Mr Stevens confirmed a photograph he saw of Julia Kibris was the same as the photo listed under the name of Sera Kentman on Lewisham Council's website.
He said: "Based on the picture we've seen, we can confirm she's the same lady who stood for Lewisham Council unless she has an identical twin."
Ms Kentman is bailed to return to Lewisham police station on August 31.
A spokesman for Lewisham Council said: "Due to non-attendance of the council for six months by Sera Kentman a vacancy has been declared in the Whitefoot ward. An election to elect a councillor will therefore be held on September 13.
"The person elected in this by-election will serve on the council until May 2010.
"Close of nominations for this election will be noon on August 16."
Residents can obtain further information on voting by calling 020 8314 6086.