As of 21st December 2015 I returned to being an Independent Councillor after only 5 months as a member of the Conservative Group. I will remain on the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council as an Independent until the forthcoming elections in May, 2016.
The reasons for this are as follows:
I am deemed to be “too independent”, “not able to put Borough matters before those of my local community and ward” and have committed the heinous crime of openly criticising the Cabinet Member for Environment for making a comment concerning Singlers Marsh when she was not privy to all the relevant facts. I am also accused of having insufficient interest in Borough affairs (strange, as I have served on Borough Committees for almost 4 years and have taken the duties extremely seriously!)
Yet another faux pas was that I acknowledged an email from a Labour supporter – apparently the only member of the Conservative Group to have done so! I always acknowledge emails – no matter who they are from.
On 14th October, I was advised of my selection to stand for Welwyn West as a Conservative Candidate next May. However, following the exchange of emails with the Cabinet Member for Environment, I was telephoned on Monday 9th November by the Conservative Agent and asked to attend a further meeting with the Selection Committee on 25th November. Then, for the serious misdemeanours listed above, I had to sit before a virtual tribunal with the Leader, John Dean, the Conservative Association Chairman, the Deputy Chairman and Conservative Agent. I eventually received a telephone call on 2nd December from the Conservative Agent, advising me that I had been deselected. This whole procedure was strung out for almost a month.
Strangely enough, I was invited to remain with the Conservative Group until next May. Although the Leader implied that this was out of “kindness and consideration”, I feel it is more likely to support the need to keep the balance of conservative member numbers up for committee membership!
Life is strange is it not? I was feeling quite uncomfortable within the group after about two months and frequently questioned to myself the wisdom of my decision to join it – which was by their invitation and not my suggestion. I did not like the fact that decisions on voting are “whipped” as I strongly uphold the belief that party politics have no place in local government and that decisions should be made for the good and benefit of the community. The more I saw of the Leadership, the less I liked. You can speak … but no-one appears to listen. The Leader sets the rules and the obedient follow; fear appears to prevail.
Several members of the Conservative Group have expressed total disbelief at what has taken place. The consensus of opinion is that the issues deserved a strong reprimand, nothing more, and certainly did not merit deselection.
However, I am pleased and relieved to be free of the Group and a Leader to whom I feel unable to give any respect or support. My priority is my dedication to working as a local councillor and the community which I am proud to serve. We all make mistakes sometimes – and I hold my hands up to having made this one! I joined the group feeling that it would help me to serve the community better. In fact it did the opposite; but I have gained valuable knowledge from the experience.
Please continue to contact me with any issues you may have or help you may need – I will do everything in my power to assist and, if unable to do so, I will at least let you know why I can’t.
Cllr Sandra Kyriakides, Welwyn West Ward