Tory councillor quits party and goes independent

A Conservative councillor has resigned from the party in the wake of the ongoing row about the Local Plan, the future of Warwick Racecourse and the treatment of the town’s mayor.

MHLC-27-08-13  Linda Bromley 
Conservative Councillor.
MHLC-27-08-13 Linda Bromley Conservative Councillor.

Cllr Linda Bromley, who spent four years as a town councillor before taking up MP Chris White’s old seat on Warwick District Council in 2010, will serve out the rest of her term as an independent. This week other resignations are rumoured to be in the pipeline.

Cllr Bromley said: “Like most Warwick councillors I’ve not been very happy about the way the Local Plan is being pushed through - all of us have tried really hard to reduce the 4.500 homes being planned for south of the town but our voices are not being heard.

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“I’m also very annoyed about the issue of Warwick Racecourse and St Mary’s Lands and the lack of consultation that has gone on.

“But the last straw came with the way that our mayor, Cllr Bob Dhillon, was treated when he was reprimanded for breaching the code of conduct and suspended from the Conservative party for six months.

“I’m certainly not alone in feeling shocked that the matter went straight before a full meeting of the district council instead of being treated in strictest privacy and going before the standards authority.

“In my opinion this procedure was undemocratic and extremely dangerous.

“We were not given all the information required under the standards procedure so that we could make an informed judgement, either in the Conservative group meeting or in the council meeting.”

Last week Cllr Dhillon - who will continue serving as Warwick’s mayor - was suspended from the Conservative party for six months and ordered to make a formal apology over derogatory remarks he is said to have addressed to deputy chief executive Andrew Jones.

Cllr Bromley accepted Cllr Dhillon’s explanation that his comments about St Mary’s Lands were taken the wrong way - as did Conservative town council leader Gerry Guest and former town mayor Elizabeth Higgins.

Cllr Higgins, who was sitting next to Cllr Dhillon during the original scrutiny meeting at which his outburst led to the accusation of bullying, has never been asked for her version of events.

On Tuesday Cllr Higgins (Con, Warwick West) said: “I do believe Bob has been a splendid mayor and a lot of people support the statements he has made about St Mary’s Lands.”

But the majority of the Conservatives voted for the mayor to be suspended from the group.

Cllr Bromley, who in the past has been vocal in her support for CCTV cameras in St Nicholas Park, was elected to the district with around a 500-vote majority. She has been accepted by the minority independent group on the district council and expects to be free to vote as she pleases.

Cllr Bromley said: “I feel confident most of my voters will stay with me because they know I care about Warwick and the issues surrounding the town.”