A councillor has been suspended from the Labour Group after breaking ranks with his colleagues over budget cuts.

Cllr Tolga Aramaz, who represents Edmonton Green, refused to back a budget plan that will see Enfield Council slash spending by millions of pounds over the coming year.

Councils are required by law to set balanced budgets, and swingeing cuts to grant funding from central government mean the council will have to reduce spending by more than £13 million in 2019-20.

Enfield’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Mary Maguire, told Wednesday’s (February 27) full council meeting that the budget had been drawn up with the aim of protecting the most vulnerable people in the borough.

But during the debate Cllr Aramaz gave a passionate speech calling on the council to oppose the Conservative government’s austerity programme.

He said: “I have lived in Enfield all my life and I grew up in poverty for six years. I share a six-metre squared bedroom with my 15-year-old sister in social housing.

“I learnt what life is like at the bottom of the economic chain and I have most certainly lived the impact of austerity.

“My councillorship is not more important than people’s lives. I do not want to be a councillor to only implement Tory cuts when we could be doing so much more as a Labour council.

“Labour must exhaust every legal means to resist these cuts. We must look at every radical option we have so that people do not suffer anymore.

“I campaigned on a socialist ticket and the people of Edmonton, the most deprived area in the borough, overwhelmingly voted for me on the basis that I would serve their interests.

“By accepting Tory cuts, I will be doing nothing but letting them down.”

Cllr Aramaz also attacked the council’s Conservative Group over its claims to have come up with an alternative budget that would free up money through efficiency savings.

When the budget was put to a vote, Cllr Aramaz chose to abstain.

Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan said: “Cllr Aramaz has been suspended because of a breach of a national Labour Party rule when he abstained on the budget.”

Cllr Aramaz will sit as an independent councillor for the duration of the suspension.

The budget was eventually approved after Cllr Aramaz’s Labour colleagues and some Conservative members voted in favour of it.

Cllr Aramaz’s suspension leaves Labour with a 27-seat majority on the council.