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Ipswich: Tories in meltdown over leadership crisis after split on borough budget vote

16:05 28 February 2014

Conservative group leader Chris Stewart.

Conservative group leader Chris Stewart.

Archant

The leader of the opposition Conservatives on Ipswich council is coming under increasing pressure to stand down after his group was reduced to a laughing stock at this week’s meeting of the borough.

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Chris Stewart proposed an amendment to the Labour-controlled borough’s budget at this week’s council meeting – but when it came to the vote only five of the nine Tories present backed it.

Among those who abstained were former council deputy leader John Carnall, and former leisure portfolio holder Judy Terry.

Another four Tories did not turn up at the meeting.

Mr Stewart’s amendment proposed raising more money from the Regent theatre and raiding the borough’s reserves – a move firmly rejected by the Conservative-controlled Suffolk County Council.

Mrs Terry said: “We did not know about this amendment until a press release was sent out late on Friday afternoon. At the group meeting at the start of the week we tried to persuade Chris to drop the amendment.

“It fundamentally failed to understand the issues surrounding the Regent, and I should know. I was responsible for the theatre for several years.

“He would not listen to us, but I could not – in all conscience – support such an amendment.”

Mrs Terry felt that she and other Conservatives on the borough would be happier with a change of group leadership. But one of her colleagues said: “Chris has the skin of a rhinoceros!”

Mr Stewart said he had a meeting with colleagues before drawing up the amendment, but those who had been most critical were not there.

He said: “I always consider my position!” But he said he had no immediate plans to step down from the group leadership.

He was aware that some members of his group would like to see a change of leadership, adding: “It is always at its darkest just before dawn.”

The group is in a perilous position. At present it holds 12 seats on the borough covering six different wards. However in three of these wards the seats are up for re-election in May and the other two seats are already held by Labour.

Many feel it is unlikely to hold Stoke Park, Rushmere, and Whitton wards. The Holywells ward could also be vulnerable – and a UKIP county councillor was elected by voters in the Castle Hill ward last year.

In the worst-case scenario for them, the Conservatives could be left with only seven seats on the borough council after May – with a general election less than a year away.

A senior Conservative in Ipswich said of Mr Stewart: “It is vital he stands down as soon as possible. You can’t lead a group on the council if half of those present don’t vote in favour of your own amendment!”

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13 comments

  • UKIP a truly nasty fascist party be careful in what you vote for, and yes i am anti euro

    Report this comment

    clowe

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Yes you are right Big Geoff I was thinking of the vote in 1975 as below The UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC) on 1st January 1973, along with Ireland and Denmark. Because of arguments about whether we should have joined in the first place, the newly elected Labour government in 1974 renegotiated the UK's membership terms, and a referendum was held on 5th June 1975 on the question '"Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?". There was a turnout of 64.5% and every county except the Shetland Islands and the Western Isles voted "yes", the overall result being 17,378,581 (67.2%) yes, 8,470,073 (32.8%) no. The European Union was created when the Maastricht Treaty came into effect on 1st November 1993, replacing the European Communities (the EEC, the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) - the ECSC and Euratom had already been effectively merged into the EEC)

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    a west

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • While I'm sure there is a debate to be had about Europe (and which definitely should be reflected in next year's General Election campaign), is this really the fundamental issue to be talking about when we are thinking of a Borough Council? (I remember thinking much the same when I lived in London 30 years ago and our Council seemed to spend a lot of time passing resolutions on South Africa). Surely points like how to run the Regent and whether Borough reserves should be raided are not directly EU-related? The Council has no control on immigration or agricultural subsidies, for instance!

    Report this comment

    Baptist Trainfan

    Saturday, March 1, 2014

  • Again comment not printed

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    pandy

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • No sorry with ipswich havering been taken over by Eastern Europeans and others from the EEC UKIP have no chance ,it's a shame but true.

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    pandy

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • "help us keep this website free" survey ... and about 9 adverts on this website... are you having a laugh Ipswich Star???

    Report this comment

    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • That's a shame the nasty party getting themselves in a tis, just need Labour to do the same and then we will have utopia.

    Report this comment

    Tedbundy

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Lol Conservatives don't want to steer us into socialism, that's the best thing I've heard all week! Call me Dave has cloned the Tories into New Liebour, Pro Immigration, Pro EU party. Vote UKIP if you have any sense.

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    Tedbundy

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • A West, Britain joined the then EEC in 1973, when Heath was prime minister. Harold Wilson's Labour government held an inout referendum in 1975, the result of which was overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EEC. Since then, however, the EEC has become the EU and British governments ratified various treaties without consulting the electorate by having a referendum (unlike most other EU states). Yet another example of politicians claiming to know what's best for the likes of us.

    Report this comment

    BigGeoff

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Why don't the tories understand a fact that there party has been split ever since we were hoodwinked by heath in 75 to join the socialist club of europe, British people speak there mind and put those thoughts into action ie voting for what they believe in, either on Europe or Council Budgets etc. The euro elections in May will be another point in time, you cant hide the fact that well nigh 70% of British born people want the right to dictate who comes to there homeland, a smaller number would want to leave the europe club but still it's the right of the public to vote for what they believe in. I believe UKIP are a useful group to put forward the idea of closing our land to Immigration until we sort out the layabouts we have who just dont want to work then we can look at allowing people to come to these shores from friendly and peaceful countries once we are out of europe.

    Report this comment

    a west

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • The tories must resign, then we can have a chance to vote for UKIP and get of of Europe.

    Report this comment

    a west

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • What happened with the conservative party 10-15 or 20 years ago is not a true representation to the current party. Yes we are in Europe, to a degree I can understand why. However on the other side of the coin; it does cost us allot of money and immigration has not been controlled. With Labour we saw immigration explode and public finances fall into disrepair. We need to have a strong relationship with Europe as without it our industryjobs etc would be threatened. I fail to see how UKIP has the resources to make any real impact in this country. Regarding local people speaking out, perhaps if you left the computer and voiced your concerns at council meetings etc you might get heard. I hear many people complain on here yet they don't make efforts to actually influence and change where we live.If 50% of those with opinions (who aren't afraid of leaving the house) came out to speak; collectively we could make Ipswich and Suffolk a better place.

    Report this comment

    Gorgeous George

    Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Nasty Party? lol... what do you actually know about local politics? At least conservatives don't want to steer us into socialism, which would ultimately result in the erosion of any kind of democracy. You need to also consider, all of the negativity we are experiencing is as a result of previous government. Conservatives are trying to fight the fire but the flames will continue to grow without local and national support.

    Report this comment

    Gorgeous George

    Friday, February 28, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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