Three senior Plymouth councillors including the former Tory leader have joined forces to form a new independent group. Nick Kelly, Terri Beer and Chaz Singh are the founding members of the Independent Alliance Group on the city council, which is currently in a state of no overall control following Cllr Kelly’s recent departure from the Conservatives.
Philip Churm www.plymouthherald.co.uk
They say the new group will allow them to represent residents on the various city council committees, with Cllr Kelly explaining: “We share common beliefs and values, and simply want the very best for Plymouth’s residents and businesses.” Ousted as leader of the council earlier in the year following a vote of no confidence, Cllr Kelly left the Conservative group in acrimonious circumstances this month.
He claims he resigned after being deselected by the Tories, accusing senior members of the party of pursuing an “ongoing vendetta” against him. The Plymouth Conservatives, in a statement reported by PlymouthLive, responded by saying Cllr Kelly had been suspended pending an investigation following “several serious and different complaints and allegations made formally to our group executive team.”
His departure leaves the 57-seat council with 28 Conservatives, 24 Labour members, three Independents and two Green Party councillors. Cllr Terri Beer, last year’s lord mayor, resigned from Plymouth’s Tory group days after Kelly was replaced as leader by Cllr Richard Bingley in March.
She said of the new group: “Despite coming from very different backgrounds, we have a strong sense of fairness and equality.” The new alliance’s third member, Cllr Chaz Singh, a former deputy lord mayor, has been an independent member for three years since resigning from the Labour group in 2019.
He said: “We feel liberated that we can do the very best for Plymouth and our residents, and not be concerned about going against any national party policies or having disciplinary action taken against us. We are truly independent.” Cllr Kelly has opened the door for other councillors to join the group and claims that since leaving the Conservatives he has been “inundated with people urging me to stand as an independent and form an alliance.
“Previous councillors and councillor candidates have contacted me in the past few days wanting to stand and be part of this alliance in May 2023 [when the next elections will be held]. We already have enough candidates to stand in each of the 19 wards.”
He added: “This is something new and exciting, although a lot more work and planning will now start to truly offer the residents of Plymouth a real and credible alternative to the mainstream parties.”