Councillor quits 'self-interested' Conservative Party

Central Bedfordshire Council is consulting on new and existing gypsy and traveller sites.

Two Conservative councillors at Central Bedfordshire Council have quit the party - Credit: Archant

A Central Bedfordshire Conservative councillor has quit the party to become an independent and criticised its culture in the process.

Stotfold and Langford councillor Nicola Harris accused the party of putting "self-interest" above everything else, and joined Biggleswade North councillor Steven Watkins in leaving the Conservatives.

She said in a statement online: “Following much consideration I resigned from the Conservative party.

“I’ll continue to work as your local councillor, as an independent member without any affiliation to a political party.

“Acting as an independent allows me to address your concerns and issues as always, but without the restrictions and limits placed upon me by a political party.

“The phrase ‘toeing the party line’ is commonly used and unfortunately is a very accurate way to describe what’s currently expected of a party member.

“A Conservative councillor is expected and required to vote with the party on any matters, even if they feel it’s not in the interest of the local community.

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“The party puts self-interest ahead of anything else, and this is not something I can agree to.

“Within the local Conservative group, this culture means an elected representative is penalised if they don’t accept the party line, even when they don’t agree with it.

“This is clearly not in the best interest of the local community,” she added. “Neither is this what democracy is about, and the party I was once proud to represent has become an embarrassment.

“The national Conservative party is antiquated and has lost sight of its core values.”

The Conservative leader of Central Bedfordshire Council Richard Wenham has been approached by the local democracy reporting service for a response.

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