A newly elected Lancashire county councillor has quit the Conservative party accusing his fellow Tories of intimidation.
County Coun Paul Greenall claimed he had faced unacceptable pressure when he wanted to table a motion calling for the axeing of some of the allowances councillors can claim.
At yesterday afternoon’s full county council meeting he turned the spotlight on internal party politics in the ruling Conservative group saying: “Not only have I been advised if I speak out on this issue I will face consequences and the prospect of being removed from the Conservative group, but incredibly it was even suggested I should seek dispensation from the whip and party leader before I could speak on the matter,”
He complained he had “been approached even in the gents” before the meeting. Coun Greenall, who represents West Lancashire East and is a former Tory mayor, said: “I wanted to be a new voice in this council chamber, However if I allow myself to be suffocated by rules imposed on me by the Conservative group...I feel I have no option to resign the Tory whip and continue to serve this council as an independent.”
After the meeting the 50 year old councillor, who has twice stood as a Conservative parliamentary candidate, said: “I feel I’ve not been treated with any respect at all....I have been Conservative since I was a teenager. I’m very upset.”
The councillor had hoped to persuade the council that councillors should not be able to claim travel and subsistence allowances as they were going to their normal “place of work” , He also maintained Council Tax payers should not fund allowances for political group whips and secretaries. Councillors voted to accept many of an independent panel’s recommendations on allowances, but declined a 1% increase.
Afterwards Tory group leader Coun Geoff Driver declined to comment on the defection. But along with Conservative group members he had applauded as Coun Greenall moved across the chamber to take a seat near Independent Fylde East councillor Liz Oades.