A Barking and Dagenham councillor and trailblazing former mayor has resigned immediately.

Equality champion Sanchia Alasia, who has represented the Alibon ward in Dagenham since 2010, leaves the council after taking a role as acting director of equality, diversity and inclusion at London South Bank University.

“While it has been a huge privilege to serve the people of Barking and Dagenham and the Labour Party, I have decided to put my career first for the time being,” she said.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Councillor Sanchia Alasia, the first Caribbean woman to hold the post of mayor of Barking and Dagenham. Picture: LBBDCouncillor Sanchia Alasia, the first Caribbean woman to hold the post of mayor of Barking and Dagenham. Picture: LBBD (Image: Archant)

As a ward councillor, Ms Alasia said she has enjoyed “meeting and building relationships with residents, faith organisations, the local Safer Neighbourhood Team and attending local community forum meetings”.

She has “fond memories” of working with the Labour Party and Barking MP Margaret Hodge to defeat the far-right British National Party in the borough in 2010.

Ms Alasia added: “It’s been an honour to be part of a Labour council where the borough has changed in such a positive way, despite the challenges of austerity and a Tory government.

“I look forward to being part of that journey, albeit in a different way, in the years ahead.”

The outgoing councillor was proud of improvements she and fellow Alibon ward representatives have made in the area, including an almost £50,000 investment in new play equipment due to be installed in Pondfield Park next spring.

She also cited upgrades to safety and pedestrian crossings in the Heathway and Oxlow Lane, and replacing older fencing around Pondfield Park as well as the greens on the corner of Sterry Road and Alibon Road.

During her time at the town hall, Ms Alasia has been elected as deputy chair of personnel board, both deputy and chair of the health scrutiny committee, and chair of the planning committee.

A granddaughter of the Windrush generation, Ms Alasia served as mayor from 2018 to 2019, becoming the first Caribbean woman to hold the post.

Ms Alasia added: “I am proud to have played a role in encouraging members, particularly women, young members, and ethnic minorities to stand for council and will continue to do so.

“I know from my own experience we still have some way to go before local government is truly inclusive, transparent, and representative of our communities.

“Being in politics has enabled me to make many changes and I’m glad that I was able to play a part in making those changes for the better."