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Rebels’ plan to oust Tory borough leader

By UttoxeterPostandTimes.3522974.UttoxeterPostandTimes  |  Posted: February 18, 2014

Labour councillors..Dennis Fletcher

Labour councillors..Dennis Fletcher

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THE Conservatives could lose control over East Staffordshire Borough Council as Labour team up with four Tory rebels to oust the authority’s leader from power in a political sting.

Labour Councillor Dennis Fletcher will table a motion at the next council meeting, which, if successful, will remove Richard Grosvenor as leader of the council and replace him with Labour leader Julian Mott.

Councillor Fletcher said he was confident Labour would win the votes after the Tories lost their overall majority last year when four ‘rebels’ dramatically quit the party.

He said: “I’m proposing this motion because the Conservatives have lost control of the council. They no longer have the majority of members.

“What it will mean is that we will run it fairly and properly. Since the conservatives were in control it was one party run, now it will be Labour, Lib Dems and independent.

“This is also a message to the Conservative government which has dealt so unfairly with people, still protecting the rich.

“People are fed up with it, even their own party is fed up with it which is witnessed by the rebels leaving the group.”

The motion has been met with anger by Tory members who have branded it a ‘dark day for democracy’ after the motion was signed by all four rebel members - Robert Hardwick, Malcom Barrett, Nathan Birnie and Peter Ball.

They resigned the Tory whip when their undisclosed concerns were ‘ignored’ by the party. Councillor Ball was also permanently expelled.

Steve Simmonds, deputy chairman political of the East Staffordshire Conservatives, said the rebels’ motivation was ‘personal’.

He said: “If they go ahead with the vote as proposed on Monday it’ll be a dark day for democracy.

“They were elected as Conservatives and are effectively throwing a Conservative administration elected by the people of the borough in 2011.

“They’ve never taken the opportunity to explain the reasons for the rift and have joined forces with Labour.

“Richard Grosvenor has done an excellent job for the people of the borough.

“He’s managed to ensure the freezing of council tax while investing in community sites such as sports centres in Uttoxeter and Burton.”

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