Sacked Tory councillor hits back after Wisbech Tories dump him for being lazy

PUBLISHED: 12:09 20 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:09 20 March 2018

Cllr Robert McLaren who has been ousted from the Conservative group on Wisbech Town Council for being lazy

Cllr Robert McLaren who has been ousted from the Conservative group on Wisbech Town Council for being lazy

Archant

A town councillor sacked for being lazy has hit back at the Conservative group that ousted him.

Wisbech town councillor Robert McLaren was told last night that his “work and conduct” coupled with poor attendance was the reason for his expulsion by the ruling Tory group.

However Cllr McLaren, who represents the Kirkgate ward, viewed it differently.

“I am far from lazy,” he said. “I have full respect for the Wisbech town council; I was dragging myself to the meetings, and was being suppressed.”

Cllr McLaren added: “There is so much that Wisbech needs, it needs far more than Music in the Park; there is so much neglect that outside groups and charities have to pick up the tab on.”

He said he had effectively “sacked myself” at end of last year and promised to be “to continue to help the community where I can with one off projects for those in need.”

Cllr McLaren crossed the floor to join the Tories in December 2014 but was unceremoniously dumped by his Conservative colleagues who until now have controlled all 18 seats on the town council.

Refreshed from a week’s skiing, town council leader Sam Hoy didn’t mince her words as she sent Cllr McLaren’s political career on a downward slope.

“Cllr Rob McLaren has been removed from the Conservative group after a long period of extremely poor attendance,” she said.

“His work and conduct have fallen a long way short of what the Conservative group expect and what the people of the ward deserve.”

Independent district councillor Mike Bucknor, a former town councillor, said: “Does he have: a serious criminal record, a PPK with ammo, naughty pictures on a council computer, council expenses scandal looming over him?

“These are all serious reasons for expulsion. No he hasn’t. So why has he been sacked?

“I suspect Robert got disillusioned with his present party when he realised they had no intention of helping him get the badly needed things his ward residents require.

“The truth is Robert is still a councillor until his next council meeting. If he attends he will remain as an independent unless he joins another party. It’s his choice. It’s his time. His fate is his own.”

It was all a far cry from the celebrations of three years ago when Cllr McLaren announced his decision to join the Conservative group.

“I have continually felt that it is the Conservative group who are actually driving positive change in this town and that it is the Conservative group who are more in line with my way of thinking,” he said.

“I have been uncomfortable on several occasions when, as part of the ‘opposition’, I’ve felt my colleagues were being unnecessarily negative for political reasons rather than productive ones. I got tired of political games to be honest.”

Cllr McLaren said he became a councillor because he wanted to make things better in the town.

“For me it’s not about national politics, it is about what can actually improve the town for the people who live here.

“I came to the conclusion that I have much more in common with the local Conservatives and that I can do better work on behalf of the community as a member of their team than alongside the Independents.

“They know what they are doing and they get on with it, rather than just looking for reasons to be negative.”

It is not the first time Cllr McLaren has come under fire for his poor attendance. Commenting upon his switch to the Conservatives in 2014, his former councillor colleague Dave Patrick pointed out that “only recently Robert was on the verge of being dismissed from Wisbech Town Council for non-attendance of almost six months.

“I persuaded him to stay on so that he and I could continue to work together and give the people of Walsoken a voice.”

Wisbech mayor Steve Tierney once wrote of Cllr McLaren that he was previously a harsh critic “because I thought he was going about things the wrong way. But it was clear that what was really going on was that Rob McLaren was being used, like a pawn in a bitter game of chess.

“He trusted people, because that’s in his nature, he is a good guy. But once he realised what was going on he had enough of it. And who can blame him?”

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