A Bradley Stoke town councillor has quit the Conservatives and become independent after refusing to allow herself to be associated with what she describes as “politically induced child’s play”.
Cllr Charlotte Walker, who has just stood down following her year’s term as Mayor of Bradley Stoke, has dropped the local Conservative Party and become an independent member of the town council.
The news was revealed last week in a press release circulated by Ms Walker’s brother, Cllr Ben Walker, who himself resigned from the Conservative Party in May last year and switched to UKIP.
The press release quotes Ms Walker as saying:
“As I have expressed recently, I have tried to remain impartial to party politics during my time on Bradley Stoke Town Council.”
“Although some of my views may be deemed to meet those of certain political groups, I have always tried to make decisions based on what I feel is right for the residents of Bradley Stoke and not follow any political agenda.”
“However, in recent months it has become increasing difficult to do so when associated with the Conservative Party. I have not and will not follow suit purely because I am told to do so or associate myself with politically induced child’s play. As a result of my unwillingness to tow the party line, it has been made clear to me that I cannot truly be part of the Conservative Party in Bradley Stoke.”
“Therefore as an elected individual on Bradley Stoke Town Council, I will no longer represent the Conservative Party and I will instead act as an Independent.”
“I understand for some individuals this may seem undemocratic, however in order to represent the community to the best of my ability and to ensure residents views are heard between the raised voices of party politics, I feel this is the right decision.”
Asked by The Journal, what was meant by the phrase “politically induced child’s play”, Mr Walker told us that Ms Walker “would rather not elaborate at this point,” but he added that the remark “referred more to the ‘Conservative Group’ rather than the council itself”.
Ms Walker was rather more forthcoming when interviewed on the BBC Radio Bristol Breakfast Show yesterday (Monday 27th May), where she referred to:
“Games that have not allowed me to do what I can do best for the community, such as not being included in email circuits and [discussion of] plans for the future.”
“I think it comes down to my family’s political associations. I think there was a little bit of fear that I would pass on some information and act as a mole.”
Hear the full interview on BBC iPlayer (available until 9am on Monday 3rd June 2013).
Indications that all was not well in Ms Walker’s relationship with the Conservative Party first surfaced last year when she voted against inviting local Conservative MP Jack Lopresti to join her in opening the town council’s new office at the Jubilee Centre. More recently, at the town council’s AGM on 14th May, she joined the three UKIP members in opposing the selection of Cllr John Ashe (Conservative) as Vice-Chair for 2013/14.
Asked in the BBC interview if she might consider joining another party, Ms Walker said:
“I can categorically state that I will not go to UKIP. I probably will stay as an independent.”
Local Conservatives yesterday issued the following statement:
“During the latest meeting of the Bradley Stoke Conservatives, Cllr Charlotte Walker’s press release was discussed.”
“The release detailed her resignation from the Conservative Group to become an independent councillor.”
“The Group unanimously agreed to thank Charlotte for her year as Chairman of the Town Council and to wish her all the best in the future.”
“It is noted by the Conservative Group that Charlotte’s comments were released by her brother, Ben Walker, who was also elected by the people to represent them as their Conservative councillor and then let them down by defecting to UKIP.”
“UKIP have failed to gain a mandate from the residents of Bradley Stoke on the occasion of two by-elections since that time.”
“The Group would like to place on public record their thanks to the residents of Bradley Stoke for recognising our enthusiasm and energy in ensuring that we continue to build on the many improvements the Conservative group has brought to Bradley Stoke.”
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