Another local council loses its Tory majority!
Six Tory councillors on Spelthorne Borough Council have quit the party meaning the Conservatives lose their majority for the first time in the council’s history.
Six councillors quit Tory party at borough council in Surrey
The six councillors, who include leader Ian Harvey and deputy leader Olivia Rybinski, announced their resignations from the Conservative Party with immediate effect on Tuesday (June 9).
In a statement, the councillors made a number of allegations against the borough’s Conservative Party and how it is run, saying it made their “continuing membership untenable”.
Cabinet members Jo Sexton, Amar Brar and Helen Harvey have also quit the party alongside long-term Tory member Richard Smith-Ainsley.
It means the Conservative Party now has 17 councillors and the other groups collectively have 22.
The six former Tories have now formed a new party, known as United Spelthorne Group, which will “continue to put the needs of Spelthorne residents first”.
Cllr John Boughtflower will fill the vacant leadership for the Spelthorne Conservative Group, while Cllr Jim McIlroy will take up the deputy leader role.
Cllr Harvey, who has served as leader for more than four years, said in a statement: “’When I took over as leader of the council in 2016, the borough was facing a severe financial crisis due to swingeing cuts to government and Surrey County Council grants, compounded by historic poor financial decisions.
“Our renowned investment strategies have reinvigorated Spelthorne finances to the extent that we have now embarked on our ambitious second stage of regeneration and have commenced a building programme which will deliver over 1,200 homes within five years.
“We have delivered a balanced budget with increases below inflation for the last four years; the lowest council tax increases in Surrey this year. I am proud of what has been achieved under my leadership.’’
Cllr Boughtflower and Cllr McIlroy have been approached for comment.