EXCLUSIVE: Resignation of East Cambs councillor from Conservative Party could affect Tory position on county council

Phil Read

Phil Read - Credit: Archant

A Conservative councillor on East Cambs District Council has resigned from the party citing “an accumulation of disquiet and conflict” brought to a head by the group’s selection process for the forthcoming Sutton by-election.

A Conservative councillor on East Cambs District Council has resigned from the party citing “an accumulation of disquiet and conflict” brought to a head by the group’s selection process for the forthcoming Sutton by-election.

Cllr Phil Read, also of Sutton, said that a number of issues that had built up in recent months had persuaded him to resign from the Conservative group and become an independent councillor.

His shock resignation could also have implications at Shire Hall, Cambridge, where he is likely to lose the Conservative whip. His decision could influence the political make up of the county once it moves to a committee system next month.

The decision by Cllr Read comes just a few weeks after the former leader of the Conservative group on east Cambs Council, Peter Moakes, resigned over what he called “disquiet” surrounding proposals to reorganise the authority.


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Cllr Read, who has been a member of East Cambridgeshire District Council on and off since 1973, said: “I’m very upset with what is going on at East Cambs because I don’t like all this business about making people redundant.

“I think it could have been avoided if we had raised rates a little bit and charged for parking. I think it also could have been avoided if we had done things along the lines that I’m told Gareth Wilson suggested at full council, although I wasn’t there.”

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The resignation of Peter Moakes has sparked a by-election for the second seat in Sutton on April 24 and Cllr Read said that the process to select a Conservative candidate to fight the election had also been a source of concern.

He said: “I was very upset with the selection process – as I was last time around - so I decided to resign from the group. I have been an independent candidate before and I have no worries about doing it again.

“I have already been asked to join the independent group and I shall have to have a think about it.”

Cllr Read said he was also upset about national party issues including the so-called bedroom tax and the HS2 high speed rail project.

He added: “A lot of the older Conservative councillors who have been on the council for a long time have had to go through this new system where you have to go before a selection panel before you can stand.

“It is something that has been introduced by the party central office and I don’t agree with it.”

Cllr Read said he would probably have to resign from the Conservative group at Cambridgeshire County Council, where he has been a councillor on and off since 1975.

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