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Rebel councillors slam treatment by party
7:30am Friday 18th January 2013 in News
FOUR former Conservative councillors have criticised the party regional group’s handling of a meeting discussing their membership.
Russell Quirk, William Lloyd, Phil Baker and Nigel Clarke appeared in front of the Brentwood and Ongar Conservative Association to review their memberships after they resigned from Brentwood Council’s Tory group after criticising leader Louise McKinlay.
However, the four, who are now Independent councillors, stormed out of Merrymeade House, in Brentwood, on Thursday evening after being denied the chance to stand together during the meeting.
Afterwards Mr Quirk said the way the evening, chaired by Essex Conservative branch chairman Adrian Roper, was held was not to Tory core beliefs.
He said: “Despite a ten-minute standing debate between us, Roper and Mark Coxshall (assistant to Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price) the official line remained that we were not permitted to be represented.
“Albeit that after a call to Conservative Central Office legal guru Alan Mabbutt, some ground was eventually conceded and we were then allowed to ‘take someone in with us’, but they would not be allowed to speak.
“Understandably we struggled to see that as much of a concession to four individuals on trial, arguably for their political lives, and who simply wished for some support from each other in the face of 30 baying adversaries sitting with gritted teeth, apoplectic with excitement in the next room.”
Officials from the party said standard procedures were fully explained to the four and the meeting was run according to party rules.
A spokesperson said: “The party’s rules give the individuals in question the same rights to speak, present their case and call witness as the association and this was explained by the independent chairman, who is not a member of the association, before the meeting.
“They were invited to make their cases individually and each to have one representative to accompany them.
“The individuals were also informed the meeting would go ahead even if they chose not to attend.”
The four councillors were expelled from the Brentwood and Ongar Conservative Association.