Rutland councillors resign from Conservative Group and launch new political party
Three councillors yesterday (Friday, April 22) resigned from the Rutland Couty Council Conservative Group.
Gordon Brown (Ketton), June Fox (Exton) and Nick Begy (Greetham) have formed the new group Together4Rutland.
In a statement, they said they had become "increasingly concerned with the direction of travel of the Conservative group, and as backbenchers have felt marginalised, finding it harder to provide the support for the residents for whom they took up public service to help".
It added: "They cannot continue to support the national Conservative party on moral grounds, with Ministers and senior MPs having lost the respect of the public and failing to recognise the serious financial position of Rutland County Council caused by a lack of government funding compounded by additional burdens from new legislation.
"The new group feel that now is no time for party politics in local government in Rutland and wants the opportunity to openly question policy which impacts all residents and not just follow the Conservative party line. The three councillors look forward to working together with all members of the council to avoid unnecessary political arguments and remembering why they hold these privileged positions. They are hoping that the other members of the county council will agree with this position and look to join with the new Togther4Rutland group to achieve the best outcomes for the whole of Rutland."
Paul Ainsley, who left the Conservative Group shortly after the council voted to reject money that would have been needed to progress the development of St George's Barracks, has also joined the group, having previously been Independent non-aligned. That decision led to the Local Plan being scrapped.
Coun Begy was the vice-chairman of the council.
It now means the Conservative don't have a ruling majority with nine Conservative councillors; five Independent councillors; four Liberal Democrat councillors; two Independent non-aligned councillors and one Green Party councillor. There is also a vacancy.
Leader of Rutland County Council Oliver Hemsley, himself a Conservative, said in response: "The position that the Conservative group has been in for a little time has been without an overall majority. It is important that we all as elected representatives of Rutland continue to work together for the best of Rutland.
"I look forward to continuing working with all county councillors to deliver this as a democratic body, we need to focus on Rutland at this time and all work together and on occasion agree to disagree but accept the democratic decisions taken by council.
"I look forward to working with Together4Rutland, Independents, Liberal Democrats, Non Aligned for Rutland and their support in addressing the funding issues that we face, and the changing landscape of local politics with devolution, levelling up, health, adult social care, just to mention a few.
"Rutland is at our heart and we should all be doing our best in these difficult times by working together across the piece. We have been given some clear messages from residents of all ages that took part in Future Rutland Conversation. We need to listen to them and remember who we are here to serve."