Independents are on the rise in Plymouth but have, as yet, no formal grouping.
In Owl’s view “Independents” do need to declare some core principles.
Philip Churm, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk
A former Tory and leading member of Plymouth City Council has been explaining why he will now stand as an independent candidate, against the Conservatives, in the upcoming local elections.
Cllr Dave Downie (Independent, Budshead) was cabinet member for education, skills and children and young people but was suspended from the Conservative after he challenged a decision by Plymouth Moor View Conservative Association, in January, not to put him forward for selection.
Cllr Downie said he had appealed the decision to stop him standing for election but wanted an independent panel to hear his complaints.
“That was my right but it hasn’t transpired,” he said.
“I would assume that Moor View [Conservative Association] were dragging their heels. And then once it came to the next election time I was out anyway.
“So, I didn’t get my hearing and I was no longer prepared to be a pawn in someone else’s power games.”
As well as leaving the Conservative group, Cllr Downie has also left the Tory party altogether.
He says his mind was made up after the selection of a new cabinet on Tuesday following the election of a new leader.
Cllr Richard Bingley (Cons, Southway) was elected as council leader after Cllr Nick Kelly (Cons, Compton) was ousted from his role following a vote of no confidence.
Cllr Downie, who has lost his cabinet role, says the new cabinet are not up to the job.
“I did have and do have real concerns about the lack of experience and the cabinet that I think it’s mostly made up of people who have been in council less than one year.
”So I’m very concerned for the city, for the lack of experience and knowledge that these people are bringing to the table.”
He says he has told the residents in his ward that he will be standing as an independent.
“I have put that out there on social media. I definitely will be standing in Budshead ward.”
He also joins a growing group of independent councillors on the council, many of whom have left mainstream parties. However there is no formal independent group.
Cllr Downie praised Cllr Chaz Singh (Drake) who left the Labour group in September 2019 and now represents Drake Ward as an independent.
“I would love to be elected and work with Cllr Singh, for example,” he said. “Only because we could be called ‘Chaz and Dave.’”
One third of the city council in Plymouth faces re-election on Thursday 5 May.