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Disillusioned Labour councillor quits

PUBLISHED: 22:41 05 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:15 24 February 2010

The political balance of Waveney District Council has been upset after a disillusioned Labour member quit the party.

Ann Skipper, member for Lowestoft's Whitton ward, said she would operate as an Independent councillor.

The political balance of Waveney District Council has been upset after a disillusioned Labour member quit the party.

Ann Skipper, member for Lowestoft's Whitton ward, said she would operate as an Independent councillor. The decision means the ruling Labour group now has 20 councillors, one fewer than the opposition Conservatives.

She blamed her move on council leader Brian Hunter and chief executive Mairi McClean's handling of the departure of long-serving finance chief David Ablett.

Ms Skipper, who stands down in May, said she also found the council's budget plans unacceptable. “We are going to have job losses, cuts in services and higher council tax bills, which I find hard to equate,” she added.

She was also disillusioned with the Government on issues, including the prospect of war with Iraq and the firefighters' strike, and critical of the Waveney party's handling of its decision to close its social club.

The life-long party activist and Whitton councillor said: “When something goes wrong, who else do you blame but the people steering the ship and that's Brian Hunter and Mairi McClean?

“I have completely lost confidence in the chief executive and the corporate directors.”

Mr Hunter said he was disappointed that Ms Skipper had quit the party, but added: “There have been a lot of difficult decisions, but we will go on taking them - that is what leading an administration is all about.”

He admitted many councillors were unhappy with the council's switch to a cabinet system, but argued it would make the authority more accountable in the longer term.


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