An outspoken Labour councillor resigned last night after Labour’s budget was passed without any amendment to the cuts to adult social care.

Peter Walker, former councillor for Figges Marsh, was the only Labour councillor to break ranks at the Budget meeting and vote in favour of an opposition amendment that would have raised £1.35 million for adult social care every year.

From yesterday: Social conscience or party loyalty? Merton Labour facing tough decision in tonight's budget meeting

He has condemned the cuts as “harsh and reckless”, and accused the cabinet of a “betrayal of Labour values.”

Councillor Jeff Hanna also spoke in favour of the amendment, but insisted on his right to abstain from the vote.

The Merton Labour Party had asked for a free vote on the issue, but it has been alleged that councillors were threatened with disciplinary action if they did not support the budget.

February 22: Merton Labour accused of intentionally silencing and misinforming councillors in leaked email dispute over adult social care cuts

Nine Labour councillors are believed to have spoken in party meetings against the cuts to adult social care. With Labour holding a majority of 12 seats in cabinet, it would have taken just six councillors to back the opposition amendment for it to have passed.

Wimbledon Times:

Mr Walker's resignation letter, addressed to Chief Executive of Merton Council Ged Curran

Mr Walker spoke in favour of the amendment, which had been submitted jointly by the Merton Conservatives, Merton Park Independents and the sole Liberal Democrat councillor Mary-Jane Jeanes, calling for a 1.7 per cent precept to be raised from the council tax no longer being collected by the Greater London Authority for the Olympic precept.

Using this money would mean council tax would not go down, but stay frozen at current levels.

The amendment proposed the money, which would total over £5million in the next four years, be used to fund adult social care, which will be cut by £5.06 million in this budget.

In his speech, Mr Walker reminded his Labour colleagues of the “July Principles”, which promised to protect the vulnerable in society.

December 9: "We all have our breaking point, and all you can do is try your best": Carers speak against Merton Council cuts

He said: “Tonight I urge my colleagues to keep to that promise and defend the 3,000 residents and their carers in Merton who are desperately in need of our help if they are to live their lives in dignity.”

The cuts include scrapping the meals on wheels service and the mental health charity Imagine Independence, reducing support packages for the vulnerable and those with disabilities, and a number of staffing reductions.

However the amendment failed, with 33 votes against it versus 25 for it, as well as a no vote from Cllr Hanna.

Council leader Stephen Alambritis spoke last night of the importance of keeping the promise not to raise council tax, and condemned central Government cuts to local authorities.

February 3: Merton council leader Stephen Alambritis refuses to bend as rebel Labour party urges him to raise tax and 'save adult social care'

He said: “People wonder why no one trusts politicians. It’s because they don’t keep to their word. But in Merton, that is not the kind of politics we do.

“We made a promise and we are sticking to it. In sticking to our promises we also have to deal with the impact of a Tory Government every day.”

Cllr Alambritis also argued that the council’s new £1.3 million Mitigation Fund will be used to help vulnerable people affected by the cuts.

However, Director of Corporate Services Caroline Holland confirmed last night that the money will be used to offset the impact of planned cuts, rather than lessen the cuts themselves.

She also confirmed that a further £2 million will be cut from adult social care in 2017-2018, and another £1 million the year after.

Speaking today, Mr Walker said: “Last night was the first time in my life I have ever voted against the Labour whip.

“I think Stephen Alambritis and the group are completely out of line with Labour voters and with residents.

“I think most residents will be appalled at what’s going to happen now to adult social care, and to vulnerable people.”

Wimbledon Times:

The cuts have caused protests since they were announced in October

Mr Walker, who had been a councillor in Merton for six years, and was one in Croydon for 11 years before that, claimed he has not been permitted to speak at council or attend cabinet for 18 months, following a disagreement with Cllr Alambritis over a new free school in Wimbledon.

In his resignation letter to Cllr Alambritis, Mr Walker accused him of “a betrayal of Labour values”.

He wrote: “I have no intention of becoming lobby fodder for your harsh and reckless policies, which threaten the needy in our borough. 

“To refuse to act to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community, when you could do so by raising our precept, as allowed by government, is frankly unforgivable.

“Unfortunately through a mixture of your powers of patronage, and your recent threat to expel any Labour members who publicly criticise your policies, you have turned the Labour Group on Merton Council into a cult rather than a progressive political force. 

“I will remain an active member of the Labour Party in Wimbledon and will campaign with its members against your policies which betray our Party.”

Cllr Alambritis has been contacted for comment.