Jackson faces Tory expulsion

A FORMER council leader will face expulsion from the Conservative Party if he goes ahead with plans to field up to eight independent candidates against official Tories in May's elections in Ipswich.

By Graham Dines

A FORMER council leader will face expulsion from the Conservative Party if he goes ahead with plans to field up to eight independent candidates against official Tories in May's elections in Ipswich.

Dale Jackson, who was forced to quit as borough council leader a year ago after being reported to the Standards Board for England over a letter written to the daughter of fellow councillor Stephen Barker, asked to be re-instated after being cleared of the allegations in September.

But the Tories in Ipswich - who are in joint administration with the Liberal Democrats - refused and gave a vote of confidence to his successor Liz Harsant, who will lead her party's campaign in May to increase its representation on the authority.


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Mr Jackson and Mr Barker, who has also fallen out with the Tory group, sit as “independent Conservatives” on the borough council, and angered colleagues last month by joining forces with Labour to vote Conservative David Hale off the council's ruling Executive Committee.

Mr Jackson said: “I have been treated shabbily by the Tories. I was the first Conservative leader of the council in 25 years when I took office in 2004 but because of a complaint to the Standards Board about me by Chief Executive James Hehir, I was put in an impossible position and asked to stand down.

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“I understood this to be only until after the Board's hearing into the case. I was cleared of any impropriety but the Conservatives have refused to re-instate me.”

Mr Jackson has said he will be backing up to eight candidates in May's elections, and they will stand as independents - the description Independent Conservative is banned by the Electoral Commission - in key wards including St John's, Stoke Park, Rushmere, Bixley, Castle Hill, Whitton and St Margaret's.

He added: “These candidates are unlikely to stand if Mrs Harsant steps down as leader.”

However, Mrs Harsant said she had no intention of quitting, and had received the backing of both her own group and also the Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

She added: “Mr Jackson is bringing the party into disrepute and if he actively campaigns against official Conservative candidates in May, he cannot expect to remain a member of the Conservative Party.”

A spokesman for Suffolk Central and Ipswich North Conservative Association - the constituency which covers Mr Jackson's Castle Hill ward - confirmed it had been in contact with Conservative Central Office over Mr Jackson's future.

The current membership of the borough council is Labour 23, Conservatives 16, Liberal Democrats 7 and “independent Conservatives” 2. In May's elections, 16 councillors will be seeking re-election -

Labour will be defending 11 seats, the Tories four and the Liberal Democrats one.

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