New political party formed
A NEW political party dubbed "the last bastion of hope" for voters in a traditionally Conservative stronghold has been set up in west Suffolk.Rebel councillors Terry Mills and Robert Newman, who have been barred from standing under the Conservative banner for re-election to Forest Heath District Council in May, have now formed the West Suffolk Independent Alliance party to allow them to contest their seats once more.
A NEW political party dubbed "the last bastion of hope" for voters in a traditionally Conservative stronghold has been set up in west Suffolk.
Rebel councillors Terry Mills and Robert Newman, who have been barred from standing under the Conservative banner for re-election to Forest Heath District Council in May, have now formed the West Suffolk Independent Alliance party to allow them to contest their seats once more.
The two councillors, who serve the Severals Ward in Newmarket and the Rows ward respectively, were de-selected by the Tory group earlier this year after refusing to sign a loyalty contract pledging their full and unquestioned allegiance to the group leader and local MP.
They have enlisted the support of Andy Drummond from Newmarket, who will stand alongside them to challenge the Conservative stronghold at Forest Heath.
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Mr Mills said the new group's name has now been confirmed by the Electoral Commission, and a minimum of three representatives would stand under its banner.
"The West Suffolk Independent Alliance Party is an embryo party, but we felt it was important to make a stand. We could have just walked away, thrown in the towel and let them get on with it, but we were determined to try and make Forest Heath cost effective and stop the rot.
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"Starting a political party is a very exciting feeling and although we're just a nucleus at the moment, we are confident we can each win the seats we are standing in for the May elections.
"The response on the streets has been very positive. Some have said we're their last bastion of hope to try and bring runaway spending under control."
Mr Newman, who – like Mr Mills – was barred from standing for re-election under the Conservative banner after refusing to sign the loyalty contract, said: "We are saying that the people come first, not the principles of the party or the Government. We will fiercely challenge the Government if policy is not in the best interests of the public."
The group's third member, Mr Drummond, from Newmarket, is now keen to hear from anyone interested in standing as an independent at election time.
"This is the first time I have stood as a councillor, as it is the first time I have really been inspired to get involved," he said.
"I think at a district level, there is absolutely no need to involve party politics. It should be about serving the people on a party which does not require anyone to sign a blood sheet."
Former colleagues in the Conservative group have insisted the Independent Alliance Party represents no real threat.
"I'm personally sorry this has happened," said Peter Merrick, chairman of the West Suffolk Conservative Association.
"If you're unhappy with something, then the thing to do is to fight from inside where you have a voice.
"I don't view this party as a threat, and if they do win their seats their representation on Forest Heath committees will be extremely thin. We won 21 Conservative seats at the last election, so to lose three – while very sad – would not be life-threatening."
Anyone interested in joining the group can contact Mr Drummond on 01638 666888 or visit the website at http://members.aol.com/wsiap