Two county councillors quit Tories
By Graham DinesPolitical EditorTWO senior county councillors have quit the Conservative Party after they failed in their bids to be reselected by Tory activists for May's elections.
By Graham Dines
TWO senior county councillors have quit the Conservative Party after they failed in their bids to be reselected by Tory activists for May's elections.
Jane Andrews-Smith and Don Levick will sit as Independents on Suffolk County Council after they were expelled from the Conservative group following their resignations from the party.
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Their decision to go is an embarrassment to the county's Tories, who have high hopes of recapturing control of the authority from the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition that has been in charge since 1993.
The pair, who have been councillors for more than eight years, have been victims of wholesale boundary changes across Suffolk, which have reduced the number of council seats from 80 to 75, with Forest Heath's allocation down by one to five.
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More than a dozen Conservative Party members applied for the five vacancies in Forest Heath and Mrs Andrew-Smith and Mr Levick failed to make the final shortlist.
Conservative officials in the West Suffolk constituency office of MP Richard Spring refused to be drawn on the decision, but it is understood that Tory activists were unhappy with the decision of Mrs Andrews-Smith, who represents Icknield, to move house from Kentford to Bury St Edmunds.
Mr Levick, who lives in Newmarket, represents Exning on both the county and Forest Heath District councils. Having resigned from the party, he will no longer be eligible to remain a member of the Tory group on the district.
He said yesterday: “I don't know who gave you this information, but I don't wish to discuss it with you.”
Councillors and officials were told by Suffolk County Council chief executive Mike More in an e-mail of the resignations after being contacted by the pair.
Tory county group leader Jeremy Pembroke said: “As they are no longer members of the Tory Party, they cannot remain in the council group. I wish them well in the future.”
Fourteen months ago, the Labour group's total was reduced by one following the decision of Trevor Beckwith to resign and sit as an Independent for Abbeygate and Eastgate.
The political make-up of the county council is now Labour 34 seats, Conservatives 30, Liberal Democrats 12 and Independents four.