Political upheaval at Fenland Council as four Conservatives quit to become independent - and promise more will follow

PUBLISHED: 15:51 08 March 2019

The Fenland ‘gang of four’; Councillors who have all quit the Conservative whip on Fenland Council today. Left to right: Cllr Fred Yeulett, Cllr Mike Cornwell, Cllr Michelle Tanfield and Cllr Will Sutton. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

The Fenland 'gang of four'; Councillors who have all quit the Conservative whip on Fenland Council today. Left to right: Cllr Fred Yeulett, Cllr Mike Cornwell, Cllr Michelle Tanfield and Cllr Will Sutton. Picture: HARRY RUTTER

Archant

Four councillors - including a cabinet member -today quit the Conservative whip at Fenland District Council and announced the formation of an independent group to fight the May elections.

The Fenland ‘gang of four’ said they had finally had enough of the North East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association (NECCA) and a two year battle to remove sitting councillors.

The four departing the Conservative group – and they say more could follow – are Councillors Fred Yeulett, Councillor Michele Tanfield, Councillor Will Sutton and Councillor Mike Cornwell.

“Our allegiance to the Conservative Party remains and the action we have taken has nothing to do with what is happening nationally,” said Cllr Yeulett.

“Our prime reason for leaving the Conservative group and seeking election as independents in the forthcoming elections is the action taken by NECCA.

“They deselected Will Sutton, Michelle Tanfield and Mike Cornwell – who do not deserve such treatment.”

Cllr Yeulett added: “We are concerned at the direction being followed by NECCA and its elected officers, particularly the organised voting practices, namely block voting by Wisbech branch members.

“The current NECCA is not the NECCA that we joined and supported.”

Cllr Sutton, who had failed to be re-selected for Christchurch ward in favour of Phil Webb, a former Tory councillor and UKIP supporter, who now lives in Whittlesey, said it was as if “a Momentum style group” had penetrated NECCA.

“A lot of people are not happy with what has happened – I am confident more people will join us,” he said.

Cllr Yeulett said he had considered standing down this year from politics but “when I saw what was happening, and saw good councillors not being re-selected, I changed my mind.”

Technically all four remain members of the Conservative Party but what happens once the election is called and they become official candidates standing against party candidates is a different matter.

All four are unfazed by the expected fuss – if elected back to Fenland Council they will form an unaligned group.

Cllr Tanfield said: “We are looking for others to join us - people who are positive and passionate about their community, as we all are.”

Cllr Yeulett joked: “Why do these things always start with a gang of four?”

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