Suffolk Tory leaves party to fight as Independent after losing selection battle
PUBLISHED: 11:30 14 February 2019
The Conservative groups on Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council are each one member down after Haverhill councillor Paula Fox resigned from them to become an independent councillor.
Mrs Fox, who was elected to the county as one of two councillors for the Haverhill Cangle division in 2017, quit the party groups after she failed to be selected to fight one of the seats for the town in the elections for the first West Suffolk Council in May.
She is now considering standing as an independent candidate in those elections – and to do that she would have to resign from the Conservative Party.
Mrs Fox said: “A number of people and local residents have requested that I stand again as an Independent. If I stand as an independent it means that I would no longer be a member of the Conservative Party as you are not allowed to stand against the Party.
“Also, I became very unhappy with being part of West Suffolk Conservative Association, so I resigned.
“I have been a Conservative supporter for most of my life, but I think now is the right time especially following a significant family event that has just occurred. It lead me to question my Conservative values and they are not what they used to be.
“I am very Haverhill focused, not Party lead, and have no intention of putting my hand up just because a whip says so.
“I make up my own mind and often talk about issues with local residents before making a decision. I believe that the people select you to serve them as well as being part of a political party, not because you are part of a political party.
“They need someone who will look out for them and I believe in Haverhill and its people much more than I believe in any political party. Haverhill has become, for me, my home town and it is a community that I belong to and enjoy being part of.”
Mrs Fox, whose husband Quillon remains a Conservative county councillor, had been secretary of the Conservative group at Endeavour House.
County Council leader Matthew Hicks said: “I understand that this is due to a local association matter and not related to Paula’s role as a County Councillor. Paula has made a valuable contribution to the Conservative administration on the County Council and we will miss her within the Group.”
Mrs Fox’s departure to the Independent benches will not cause major problems for the party at the county council – after her defection the Tories will still hold 50 of the 75 seats on the authority.