Tory hits outs at 'puppets' in party
A FURIOUS Tory councillor rejected by the Conservative Party for not signing a loyalty contract has hit out at the "puppets" running the party.Terry Mills, outspoken Conservative member of Forest Heath District Council, representing Severals ward in Newmarket, was formally barred on Friday from standing for re-election under the Tory banner as he was unwilling to sign a document which, he says, is tantamount to a gagging order.
By Martin Davey
A FURIOUS Tory councillor rejected by the Conservative Party for not signing a loyalty contract has hit out at the "puppets" running the party.
Terry Mills, outspoken Conservative member of Forest Heath District Council, representing Severals ward in Newmarket, was formally barred on Friday from standing for re-election under the Tory banner as he was unwilling to sign a document which, he says, is tantamount to a gagging order.
"I am ashamed to be associated with it," Mr Mills said. "My duty is to the electorate, not to the puppets running the local Conservative Party."
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Mr Mills, who has been a councillor for the last four years, was interviewed by eight members of the west Suffolk Tory party earlier this month. At the interview they presented him with a document which they asked him to sign.
The paper was a list of promises including being loyal to the party, the group and the elected group leader at all times; accepting the Conservative group whip; and supporting the Conservative MP at all times.
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"Every time I tried to sign it my hand sprang back – my conscience wouldn't let me," he said.
"I can't believe that people like Iain Duncan Smith would expect local councillors to act under those constraints.
"They told me it was a nationwide thing that had come from central office.
"I do not believe the local party are in touch with reality. That's why they are not getting support from the public and are becoming unelectable," said Mr Mills, who lives in Newmarket.
He also said other Conservative councillors had expressed their dissatisfaction with the document.
"I think there is a very strong possibility other Conservative councillors may follow me. I am not the only one who hasn't signed it and I know some who have signed it but won't do what it says."
Mr Mills said he was undecided about whether to stand as an independent candidate in the local elections in May and will do whatever the people he represents want of him.
He did add though that he felt there was a huge amount of work to do at the authority which "almost criminally wastes public money".
"I didn't believe in my wildest dreams the abuse and waste of taxpayers' money that the Conservative Party has been a party to," he said.
"I think the people in the district get very poor value for money. Expenditure has gone up from £6m to £10m in four years when the services are the same."
According to Mr Mills the council is run by an "axis" of central figures including the leader Geoffrey Jaggard, Carol Lynch and Bill Sadler.
Conservative Central Office said it was up to the local groups how they chose their candidates and the West Suffolk Constituency Conservative Association would only say that he was "ineligible" to stand as he "refused to adhere to procedures in place for the selection of candidates".
Both Mrs Lynch and Mr Sadler hit back at Mr Mills' claims that they somehow control the council.
"I wish that were true," Mr Sadler laughed. "We have group meetings, we decide what to do and publicly we all support the leader.
"If you want to belong to a party or a group you have to abide by its rules."
When asked whether he thought Mr Mills had been a good councillor, Mr Sadler said: "I was always told if you can't say something good, say nothing at all – I'm saying nothing at all."
Mrs Lynch added: "I am flattered that he thinks I can convince 13 other people to get my own way – I don't think so."
As far as the council wasting money, Mrs Lynch said: "We have a Labour Government and we have to adhere to what the Government dictates."
Mr Jaggard was not available for comment.