Union cuts funding to London Labour following sacking of long-serving Islington caretaker

Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for Gary Bolister’s reinstatement. Photograph: GMB

The GMB union has cut funding to the London Labour party after Islington Council dismissed a long-standing caretaker.

The move could cost the party thousands of pounds. During the May local elections alone, the union, which represents public service workers, gave London Labour more than £50,000.

Gary Bolister was dismissed by the Labour-controlled council in February after he appeared in a video about low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs). He was a caretaker on council estates for 24 years.

The video – which has been taken down – featured a shot that inadvertently filmed a councillor in their home.

Bolister said at the time he did not know who the councillor was: “I never took part in any of the speaking, I was just standing there.”

The video was immediately stopped and Bolister offered to apologise.

He was out for a walk last November when he was spotted by a campaigner who was filming near the site of a proposed low traffic neighbourhood and was asked if he would like to participate.

He had previously objected to LTNs as he thought there should be more consultation.

He was mourning his father Roy who had died the previous month and was also grieving after other family bereavements during the autumn.

Bolister, 43,  said: “This does not warrant being summarily dismissed.”

He hopes that the council will re-engage him in a different job.

He worked as a caretaker at St Luke’s estate and Kestrel House on the City Road and at Baring Court, off Baring Street.

“I was stunned, I have an unblemished record for 24 years,” he said after he was dismissed on the grounds of bringing the council into disrepute.

He had also canvassed for Labour candidates in Islington over the years.

Vaughan West, political officer for GMB London said: “GMB is affiliated to the Labour Party. In London Region we also contribute to support local campaigns, which during the elections in May 2021 alone, totalled over £50,000.

“Our regional committee decided that until there was a resolution in Islington, support for future local campaigns would have to stop.

“If the situation continues, it could begin to have a wider and more significant impact on future funding and the relationships between GMB London Region and the Labour Party.”

Earlier in July the union staged a protest outside Islington Town Hall and hundreds signed a petition for his reinstatement.

The London Labour party was contacted by the LDRS about the GMB decision and said it would not be commenting.

Islington Council referred the service to the London Labour party.