LABOUR leaders have accused a mother-and-son councillor duo of “long-standing hostility” to a council leader after they dramatically quit the party.

Crawley Borough Council’s Labour administration was rocked when councillors Karen Sudan and Rory Fiveash resigned the whip, giving Conservative councillors a majority of one.

Cllr Sudan said on Tuesday she had quit the party to contest anti-Semitism allegations made against her, which she labelled “pathetic”.

Her son Cllr Fiveash then resigned from Labour a day later complaining the party had investigated him for more than a year, causing “gossip” to spread.

Now top officers in the Crawley Labour Party have released a statement condemning the councillors, claiming they had “rushed off” without thinking about the impact on the town.

“We, the executive officers of Crawley Labour Party, are very saddened by news of the recent resignation of two local Labour councillors,” the statement read.

The Argus: The resignations mean the Conservatives now have a majority on Crawley Borough CouncilThe resignations mean the Conservatives now have a majority on Crawley Borough Council

“We are, though, at a loss to understand why, at this time when it is so important to stay focused on much graver matters which are literally, a matter of life and death for some, they chose to take this action.

“Surely, no matter what your personal issues are, you have a civic duty to put those matters in second place to the needs of the people you were elected to represent... particularly at this time when good leadership is so vital?”

The party leadership also accused the councillors of “long-standing hostility” towards borough council leader Councillor Peter Lamb.

Cllr Sudan claimed backbenchers on the council “have to to fight to be heard” under his leadership.

But Crawley Labour top brass said: “We do not recognise the picture of Councillor Lamb the two disaffected councillors paint.

“He is a man whose door is always open to new ideas, questions, criticisms.

“All of Peter’s decisions have been made on the grounds of safety and in consultation with many others.

The Argus: Officials defended council leader Councillor Peter LambOfficials defended council leader Councillor Peter Lamb

“The fact that he was again re-elected leader of the council only last month by an overwhelming majority of councillors surely speaks for itself.”

Last month Cllr Lamb beat Cllr Sudan in an election for the council leadership.

Finally the Crawley Labour leaders said they were disappointed the now-independent councillors had not spoke to the party about their concerns.

“It was news to us Councillor Fiveash and Councillor Sudan felt ‘bullied’ because of the official complaints other party members had raised,” the officers said.