Senior members of Plymouth's Tory group back leader

    Friday, October 16th, 2020 1:00pm

    By Local Democracy Service reporter

    It follows a series of resignations from councillors who have criticised the way the group has been run

    Senior members of the city council’s Conservative group have spoken out in support of the leadership after a series of resignations.

    Six councillors have now left the group, including former leader Ian Bowyer, and all have criticised the way it has been run.

    But in a statement on Thursday, two senior members have strongly backed leader Nick Kelly, who replaced Cllr Bowyer in March.

    The statement from current deputy leader Patrick Nicholson and former leader Vivien Pengelly described the resignations and criticism as "very disappointing".

    They deny allegations about the behaviour of senior members of the group,  say those who have left have been unable to accept the democratic change in leadership, and praise the "energetic" approach of Cllr Kelly in holding the city council’s ruling Labour group to account.

    The spate of departures started last Friday when Cllr Bowyer and Peverell representative Tony Carson quit after being suspended for comments in a press release calling for a cut in the speed limit on the A38.

    Cllr Kelly denied a claim from Cllr Bowyer that there was a culture of “aggression and intimidation” in the group and said the press release had broken group rules and did not represent policy.

    Cllr Bowyer’s Conservative colleagues in Eggbuckland, his wife Lynda and Cllr Heath Cook, resigned on Monday, saying they had lost confidence in the leadership. Cllr Andrea Johnson and Cllr Richard Ball, who represent Compton alongside Cllr Kelly, quit on Wednesday, citing "irreconcilable differences".

    Thursday’s statement backing the leader said the resignations and comments were "very disappointing when they are all supposed to believe in team working and democracy in order to represent their respective local communities and the wider city of Plymouth."

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