ANNE Cheale was officially kicked out of the Conservative group in Thurrock at their meeting last night.
The Corringham and Fobbing ward councillor has been ousted for not following the correct party procedures for lodging a grievance against leader Garry Hague.
She did not attend the meeting, and has yet to explain her reasons for tabling a motion of no confidence in the leader for tomorrow night’s meeting.
It is rumoured that she has become disillusioned with officers having increased control at the authority.
Cllr Hague says the party had no choice but to remove the whip.
He said: “The Conservative Group has prescribed processes and procedures for dealing with grievances against the Leader, and indeed any other member of the party.
“Cllr Cheale has ignored all of these procedures in submitting her motion to Full Council.
“Consistent with the rules of the Conservative Group, Cllr Cheale has been offered all due opportunity to amend this situation but has chosen not to. She did not attend the Group meeting on 22nd February to explain her reasons.
“Cllr Cheale has left the Conservative Group with no alternative but to remove the Whip from her which means she will no longer be a part of the official Conservative Group on Thurrock Council.”
The Tory leader has apologised to residents in the borough.
He added: “I am sorry to our residents that this issue has occurred. I can only assure them that Thurrock’s Conservative Group remains focused on ensuring that Thurrock Council is an improving Council and realises its full potential for the benefit of our residents and those doing business here.
“I have lead Thurrock Council over the past year and good progress has been made in many areas. The Audit Commission recently rated Thurrock as an improving council and it is one of the fastest improving councils in the country. We achieved our best ever GCSE results, our services for vulnerable people are highly rated, we maintain a strong focus on community safety, improving the environment in Thurrock, and delivering value for money for residents.”
Now that Anne Cheale stands alone, Labour has the majority in the council with 23 councillors to the Conservatives’ 22.
Once again the balance of power will be in the hands of the council’s two Independents, Barry Palmer and John Purkiss, and the BNP councillor Emma Colgate.
They bailed the Tories out after the last leadership crisis, but will they do the same again?