Three long-serving and respected Ribble Valley councillors have resigned from the Conservative Party.
The local Tories are engulfed in turmoil after Councillors Terry Hill (Whalley), Paul Elms (Waddington and West Bradford), both former Deputy Leaders of the Council, and Coun. Robert Thompson (Wiswell and Pendleton), a former Chair of the Community Committee and current Chair of the Ribble Valley Community Safety Partnership, quit and have since created their own political grouping on the council.
The trio have set up the Democratic Conservative Group.
In a statement released to the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, Coun. Terry Hill, who leads the group, confirmed the creation of the Democratic Conservatives. He said: "We have no quarrel with the majority of the Conservative Group, or their policies, however, we can no longer serve with the leader, Coun. Ken Hind."
None of the three would elaborate further on their reasons.
Expressing profound disappointment, the local Tories are urging the trio to step down and fight by-elections in the wards they represent.
Coun. Stephen Atkinson, the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on Ribble Valley Borough Council, said: “It is with deep regret that we have to part company with former colleagues even more disappointing when one considers that every member of the group voted in a leadership election six weeks ago. I feel that if they did not agree with the Conservative Party they should have resigned before the leadership election not after, It is a key part of our democratic system that we all respect the results of the democratic process.”
Similar views were expressed by Coun. Ged Mirfin, who is also the Deputy Chairman (Political) of Ribble Valley Conservative Association: “I would like to remind them that they were elected as Conservatives not as Independents and therefore have no mandate for any platform they choose to put forward. The name of the new grouping they have created - Democratic Conservatives is a contradiction in terms. By doing what they have done and refusing to fight a by-election they are certainly not very democratic."
Stalwart Conservative Whalley councillor Joyce Holgate MBE said: "I am aware of the issues, but wont say anything further at the current time. I am considering my position as are a number of other colleagues."