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Council leader wants to rejoin the Tories nine months after walking out

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 April 2019

Councillors Leslie Hill and David Turner. Pictures: Gravesham Council/LDRS

Councillors Leslie Hill and David Turner. Pictures: Gravesham Council/LDRS

Archant

The leader of Gravesham Borough Council is looking to rejoin the Conservative party, nine months after causing a political storm by making claims he had been bullied as he left to form an independent group.

David Turner hopes to rejoin his former party as he believes the issues he had in the past have been resolved.

The Gravesham Independent Conservatives was formed after the councillors learned three of them were deselected as candidates for the election.

At the press conference announcing this move, Mr Turner shared allegations of “sustained bullying” from members of the Conservative Association.

Speaking at the time, he said the refusal of Gravesham Conservative Association and Conservative Party HQ to investigate “perverse behaviour” had led to the decision.

Cllr Turner added: “I have served the community for 42 years and all I got was an email saying that I was not approved.

“As I'm deemed to be an inappropriate person to represent the party I decided to do the honourable thing and resign from it.

“The three of use have been overwhelmed by the support we have had from fellow councillors - but appalled at the lack of interest by the local Conservative Association and Conservative HQ.”

But Mr Turner now says he would be a “great man” to help young Conservatives “drive through”. However he has no immediate plans to stand again as a candidate.

His name is not on the ballot for the elections on May 2.

Mr Turner said: “It's possible I would stand in the future but I have had 43 years at the council and I'm getting older by the day.

“Let's see how the next year or two turns out.

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“If I did rejoin the council, it would be as a mentoring role for the younger members and not in a leadership position because it's time for me to pass it on.”

The former representative for Istead Rise said: “The Conservative Association were acting quite poorly but there has been a move to correct that, if successful.

“I would like to thank the MP (Adam Holloway), who has worked hard to put things right.

“Things are looking up.”

However the leader of the local Conservatives, Les Hill, does not share Mr Turner's positive view.

Mr Hills said: “I would totally oppose David Turner rejoining the party.

“I think the members of the independent group were totally misguided by him and naive.

“I find their audacity almost unbelievable that they think they can leave the party, cause maximum damage to the Conservatives by holding a press conference and then rejoin.”

He added while the decision lies with the central office, Mr Hills hopes his colleagues will “take into account the damage” the independent group has had on his party.

The Conservative Party lost control of the council when the Gravesham Independent Conservatives took over in August.

Mr Hills added: “The council has been led for nine months by maverick, renegade councillors that are unelected.

“Whoever leads the council from May will have democratic, electoral legitimacy unlike David Turner and his party.”

Five former Conservatives are running as Independents at the upcoming election: Harold Craske, Leslie Pearton, Thomas O'Keeffe, Robin Theobald and Mick Wenban.

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