Former Suffolk Tory leaders dropped for next year’s council election
Senior Conservatives on Suffolk County Council are fighting for their political lives after being dropped as party candidates for next May’s elections to the authority.
Former council leader Colin Noble, former deputy leader Jane Storey – who stood in as interim leader during 2011 – and former cabinet member for transport Guy McGregor have all lodged appeals with the party after they were not selected to stand in the elections.
Mr Noble was leader of the council from 2015 to 2018 and has senior positions within the national Local Government Association and the County Councils’ Network. He represents Row Heath division – the Lakenheath area – on the county council.
Mrs Storey has represented the Woolpit and Elmswell area on the county since 2002 – she was elected in a by-election after the sudden death of her husband Chris. She was deputy leader to both Jeremy Pembroke and Mr Noble. She also served a year as chairwoman of the council.
She said: “I was very disappointed to be told I had not been selected to fight the division again after 19 years as a councillor. I was born here and I have always supported the Conservative Party on the county. There was no reason given for my deselection. I’ve put in an appeal and I’ll see what happens.”
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Both Mrs Storey and Mr Noble lost their district council elections in May 2019 when the Conservatives had problems across the country during the last months of Theresa May’s premiership and the rows over Europe.
They were close allies on the council and Mrs Storey had continued to back Mr Noble, even when he was defeated by Matthew Hicks in the 2018 group leadership election at Endeavour House.
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Mr McGregor is also a former chairman of the council, and said he did want to serve another term. “I think my record shows I have been very active over many years – I am a mainstream Conservative who has been active in the party since my days in the YCs (Young Conservatives),” he said.
The deselections have taken place in three different Conservative Associations – West Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds and Central Suffolk and North Ipswich – but senior Conservatives denied there was a purge under way.
An ally of Mr Hicks said: “I was not aware of that (the deselections). I don’t know what has prompted that, but you always get new candidates coming through.”