New Conservative leader slams Gravesham borough council leader for ‘giving Labour an early Christmas present’

PUBLISHED: 17:08 23 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:20 24 August 2018

Cllr Leslie Hills. Picture: Mick Gell

Cllr Leslie Hills. Picture: Mick Gell

The new Tory leader at Gravesham borough council has accused the council leader of “giving Labour an early Christmas present” after he and his close allies left the Conservatives.

The new Tory leader at Gravesham borough council has accused the council leader of “giving Labour an early Christmas present” after he and his close allies left the Conservatives.

Cllr David Turner split from the party to set up independent splinter group following his rejection as a candidate for the next election in May.

Leader of the remaining tories, Cllr Les Hills, has slammed Cllr Turner for “only caring about himself” and “damaging the Conservative party”.

While Cllr Turner, who will remain leader of the council with the Gravesham Independent Conservatives, believes the Conservative party “damaged itself” after deselecting long-standing councillors.

Deputy leader John Knight and former mayor Harold Craske and seven others left the main party due to similar reasons.

The leader of the council told reporters that all the councillors will remain in their roles, with many sitting on the cabinet, until next May’s election but the new Tory leader claim this is “a sign of his arrogance”.

Cllr Hills has said his party will “have no part” in the independent group, meaning members will leave cabinet roles but remain on committees.

“I’m looking forward to his new challenge,” he said.

“It is a sign of arrogance that David Turner has announced he will remain leader of the council and he can control the council with only ten members.

“We (the Conservatives) will not be giving him any help and assistance but we will continue our ward duties as best as we can.

“I hope he won’t last and I will do my best to ensure that he doesn’t.”

Previously the deputy leader under Cllr Turner, Cllr Hills resigned in protest of the prospect of building on the green belt in Chalk.

Cllr Hills said: “David Turner does not know what he’s talking about when it comes to the green belt.

“I couldn’t continue to be a deputy leader when he was planning to sell off the green belt and look into making it a business park or hundreds of houses.

“I had spent more than 10 years campaigning for the green belt and I couldn’t sit by.”

Cllr David Turner shared his fears his former deputy is “too party political” while he has been working with Labour “to get the best solution for everyone”.

He said: “For the last three or four years I’ve been working with the Labour group to serve the residents of Gravesham.

“Les wants to be party political but the group has damaged itself as ten members have left and more may be leaving.

“I have served on this council for 43 years and the panel that approves candidates didn’t approve me and some other long-standing councillors.

“When I asked for reasons why they didn’t provide any.

“I won’t be running in the next election but I will be fighting this decision.”

The leader of the Labour group, Cllr John Burden, said this is a Conservative matter and his party will not get involved.

He added his concerns over the “chaos” but insisted fellow Labour councillors will continue to represent their wards and will fight at the next election.

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