I was extremely disappointed, and surprised, to read the comments in the letter from the Independent candidate who came second in the recent by-election.
He questions how I can represent residents of my ward and be part of the Conservative group. The answer for me, is both simple and easy.
I spent some time looking into my options. You can either stand as a member of a party for whom you normally vote at the general election or stand as an Independent. When MPs are elected, they do not then refuse to look after the needs of any elector because they do not happen to have voted for them. It is their responsibility to represent all their electorate. I will do exactly the same. My first priority will be the residents of Oakham South West.
Before standing at the by-election I had discussions with other councillors, and it became clear to me that I could most effectively represent the residents of Oakham South West as a Conservative councillor. It was made very clear to me that I would not be made to support a decision for which I did not agree. However, in discussing issues with them I found that there were few issues with which I disagreed. It was also emphasised that if elected, I would be a county councillor. I needed to be active in decisions that affected the whole county and not just Oakham. If those conflicted, I needed to ensure that the voice of my ward was heard. I think that Mr Callaghan has not actually looked at the way that Rutland County Council has operated over the last nearly 12 years. He talks about the council standing for Conservative policies. The Council has to operate under the policies of the Government of the day. Rutland Council does not necessarily agree with all of them but tries to optimise them to the benefit of the County. It has not had the will of Westminster imposed upon it. I will, along with my fellow Rutland councillors, vote on what we genuinely believe is in the best interests of Rutland not a political dictat. My research has shown that most decisions have been made by numbers in excess of just the Conservatives. The decisions are for Rutland not a party.
I stand by my statement to represent residents equally and regardless of political persuasion – as should all Councillors.
Rutland County Councillor for Oakham South West