Long standing Tory councillors to seek re-election as Independent candidates
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A senior Tory councillor is to stand as an Independent in this year’s local elections after being deselected by her party association.
Kathryn Grandon, Babergh District Council cabinet member for communications, will stand for the Hadleigh South seat, where she has been a Conservative councillor for eight years, in the local elections on May 2, but will be seeking re-election as an Independent this time around.
She successfully passed the first two stages of her application to stand as a Conservative, but in the third and final stage – a secret ballot held by the South Suffolk Conservative Association’s executive – she was not approved.
No reason has been given for her deselection, she claims, despite how rare it is for cabinet members not be given the green light.
“My situation wasn’t by choice,” she said. “I was given no reason.
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“I started the Hadleigh Conservative Association committee and raised thousands of pounds.
“I have done so much for the association in fundraising and setting up the Hadleigh branch.
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“If you have been a supporter of a party all your life and then have this happen it’s quite a wrench, and quite hurtful when I have done so much and when I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Mrs Grandon said she was “highly regarded” in the community, and an influx of support for her plight following her deselection helped her decide to stand as an Independent.
Simon Barrett deputy chairman of membership at the South Suffolk Conservative Association, acknowledged that she “probably feels aggrieved,” and added: “We have a selection process which all candidates have to go through and in that selection process people have to go through various stages.
“Kathryn got through the first and second stage. The third stage in that has the ability to be able to say whether we want that candidate to go through.
“It’s a vote that’s taken as a secret ballot and it just came out that she was not approved.
“I don’t know what everyone’s individual reasons are, there could be various conversations behind the scenes, I don’t know.
“But as far as the association we follow the process and it’s a very fair process.”
Council leader John Ward said he was disappointed to lose Mrs Grandon from the party. “Councillor Grandon has been a candidate of excellent standing,” he said.
Second Tory opts for Independent stance
A second Tory councillor will also be standing as an Independent after quitting the Conservative Party.
Lee Parker was elected in 2015 as a Bures St Mary councillor but said party squabbling prompted his defection.
“We got elected in 2015 with a thumping majority and over those four years the Conservatives have chosen to spend much of that time with in-fighting and division,” he said.
“I looked at it and thought it’s local government and I am just not convinced that party politics is best suited for local government.”
Council leader John Ward said he was disappointed to lose Mr Parker from the party.
“I understand Councillor Parker’s reasons, and should he get elected and should I get elected I am sure we can work together. We get on very well.
People in Babergh will take to the polls on Thursday May 2, where the whole council will be elected.