Internal row in run-up to Central Bedfordshire elections

A BITTER election dispute has caused two long-standing Conservative councillors to run against their party after a selection row.

The duo parted company with the party after officials decided to refuse incumbent councillor Christina Turner a chance to stand in her home town, Stotfold, in the upcoming Central Bedfordshire council elections.

John Saunders, a fellow councillor, was selected as a candidate instead of Mrs Turner, sparking a breakaway move by her and the other runner, longstanding representative John Street.

Mr Street claims that Mrs Turner has been a more active councillor than Mr Saunders and the two have decided to turn their back on the party they have represented for many years.

He said: “John’s a good man when it comes to Stotfold Mill but when it comes to council work it doesn’t show.

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“Christina and myself do the lion’s share of everything that goes on in Stotfold and Fairfield Park, so I think residents take me terribly seriously. I have been a Conservative councillor for 20 years and to change now is a big step.

“Really the bottom line is what services the residents of Stotfold receive.”

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Both Mr Street and Mrs Turner will now run for election as no party but Mr Saunders said the decision has been taken fairly by the North East Beds Conservative Association (NECBA).

The election has seen the number of representatives on Central Beds council reduced with ward boundaries redrawn.

Stotfold is now joined with Langford with three seats between the two communities, previously Stotfold was in a ward with Arlesey with four representatives.

Three of these councillors were based in Stotfold and the remaining one in Arlesey.

NECBA decided to ensure two of its candidates were from Stotfold and one in Arlesey, which meant that an existing Stotfold councillor could not be put forward.

However Mrs Turner, who has also been a Stotfold town councillor for seven years, was given the chance to stand in Arlesey but rejected the offer as it would “be a conflict of interests”.

She said: “We’re solid Conservative and we always have been. It was a very difficult choice for us to make.

“It was that or nothing because I wouldn’t join any other party.

“I was given Arlesey and I said ‘no’ because it was too much of a conflict of interests for me because I’m a town councillor.

“We have got a lot of support, it’s a big fight, it’s a major fight, we’re fighting the biggest party but we’re basically Conservatives and I think that people know that and I think the people we have looked after know that.”

NECBA have now put forward Brian Saunders as a Stotfold-based replacement candidate.

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