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Top Torbay Tory quits

Friday, February 1st, 2019 4:21pm

By Ed Oldfield, local democracy reporter and Radio Exe news

Councillor Richard Haddock (courtesy: Ed Oldfield)

Haddock fails in fish-market town selection

Top Torbay Tory Richard Haddock has quit the area's Conservative group after failing to win selection as a candidate for the local elections in Brixham in May.

Councillor Haddock, who's a member of the mayor’s executive on Torbay Council, was one of five applications for three seats in a new ward.

He said he was unsuccessful after his council voting record was questioned at the selection meeting in Totnes, when he was asked if he had ever voted against the Conservatives. The meeting was told that in September, according to council records, Cllr Haddock voted against the group over a controversial decision to investigate setting up town councils in Torbay.

The local governance review was put forward by the elected mayor Gordon Oliver to come up with a new way of funding services hit by government cuts. The Conservatives opposed the move, arguing it was unwanted and could increase council tax by up to £200 for Band D homes.

The vote was tied with 16 for and against, but the proposal was approved with the casting vote of the meeting chairman.

Councillor Haddock, a former chairman of the NFU livestock board, was elected for St Mary’s with Summercombe in 2015, blamed the questioning of his voting record for his failure to win enough support at the selection meeting for the new Furzeham with Summercombe ward at Brixham. 

He's keeping his membership of the Conservative Party but had not yet decided whether to stand as an independent at the elections on May 2.

Meanwhile it was “business as usual” and he would serve out his remaining time on the council as an independent with the full support of the mayor. He said: “It is down to the electorate of Brixham if they want me to stand. I won’t take it personally if they don’t want me. I have done what I can.” He said he supported Brixham Town Council and felt people in other areas should be given the option of deciding if they wanted a similar system - and claims political in-fighting on the council had damaged its ability to act in the interests of Torbay.

The Conservative group is the largest on the council and has regularly clashed with the mayor and members of his executive. Senior Conservatives declined to comment on the private meeting to select the candidates for Brixham. But Councillor Dave Thomas, leader of Torbay’s Conservative group, said Councillor Haddock had been a useful and keen member, keeping it informed of the executive’s plans.

Councillor Thomas said he was shocked to receive the resignation letter ahead of a meeting of the full council on Thursday.

He said the Conservative group had tried to achieve results which had at times led to differences of opinion with the mayor and his executive.

Councillor Thomas said: “It is part of the political cycle that we live in, and we have tried to work towards the best outcome for Torbay.”


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