The turmoil within the Conservatives in Tunbridge Wells continues in a very public fashion across the pages of the local newspaper. And there was I thinking Bob Atwood was elected Leader of the Council to bring peace and calm.
In December 2010 the Conservative Group on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council ousted Roy Bullock as Leader of the Council, later to be replaced by Bob Atwood. Early in 2011 Roy Bullock was deselected as a Conservative candidate.
The chairman of the Conservative Group, John Smith, was deselected, but he stood as an Independent at the May 2011 elections and trounced the Conservative candidate.
A Conservative councillor for Pembury ward resigned in protest at the treatment meted out to Roy Bullock. At a by-election in March 2011 the Conservatives lost the seat to the Liberal Democrats, mainly as a result of a strong showing by UKIP. The successful candidate has just resigned from the Council. The Conservatives held Pembury at the May 2011 election and will be hoping to regain the seat lost to the Liberal Democrats.
On election to the position of Leader of the Council, Bob Atwood made a number of changes to the cabinet, ousting pro-Bullock members and bringing in, amongst others, Brian Ransley.
One casualty of the cabinet changes was Tracy Moore who was later subjected to a personal attack by councillor Linda Hall in the letters column of the local newspaper.
The May 2011 election produced a shock, a win by UKIP in councillor Atwood's ward.
In June 2011 councillor Ransley made some eyebrow raising comments at a planning committee meeting. Later councillor Ransley was the subject of eight complaints to Standards for England. Although he was exonerated on all counts of claims he had breached the code of conduct, his actions and behaviour were criticised in the public summary version of the SfE report. The full report has not been made available for public consumption. However copies of the full report are circulating to a wider audience than intended. I understand the full report makes for uncomfortable reading.
Councillor Ransley now has been deselected as a candidate at the May 2012 elections by the Executive Council of the Conservative Association, although he can appeal to be reinstated. Meanwhile he continues as a member of the cabinet: one assumes he has the full support of councillor Atwood.
Meanwhile the local press carried today a riposte by councillor Sean Holden (Conservative) to the attack on him by councillor John Smith the previous week. Councillor Holden mentions that John Smith was deselected, but fails to mention that the electorate in John Smith's ward preferred him to the Conservative candidate.