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By Tristan Harris Tuesday 11 February 2014 Updated: 11/02 21:14
TWO CONSERVATIVE councillors who claim they are fed up of the bickering and backbiting of party politics have quit the ruling group to become independents.
Coun Steve Colella, who represents Hagley, and Coun Brian Lewis, whose seat is in Woodvale, tore into the Tories, accusing them of not appreciating local issues.
They claimed the 'constant belittling of parish councils and parish councillors', 'the Conservatives' inability to engage with public opinion' and 'the growing frustration with the group's lack of appreciation of local issues' were among the reasons for their decision.
In a joint statement they said they wanted other like-minded councillors and community stalwarts from across the district to join them in a bid to offer Bromsgrove 'a long-term alternative from the political merry-go-round'. They added they wanted to stand up for what they believed in - not just for their own wards, but for the whole district.
Coun Colella said: “From this point on we intend to campaign as an independent group beginning with the rebuilding of bridges with the parish councils - making sure that the tremendous work that parish councillors do is recognised.
"We will actually listen to the numerous resident action groups that have sprung up across the district.
"We will campaign for parish councils to be properly represented in local matters and for the district to take an active supporting role.“
The pair said the district needed strong representation in the coming years as it faced a greenbelt review and pressure from neighbouring authorities to accommodate their housing.
And they added they would be supporting the campaign for the New Homes Bonus to be used in those areas facing extra development, rather than the Conservatives' policy of putting it in one big pot to be shared across the whole district.
Coun Colella said: “I can now truly represent my constituents and be free to take the politics out of local governance and make my own mind up in an independent and balanced way.
"True blue Tory voters may be critical of this action but after seven years as a Tory Party councillor I have come to believe that there is no room for party politics in local District Council matters” said Councillor Colella.
Coun Lewis added: “Some of the decisions I have been expected to support are against my principles.
"I became a district councillor to look after the interests of the local community as well as Bromsgrove as a whole but recent events have made my position in the group untenable."
“We hope that by taking an independent stance it may just be the start of something good for Bromsgrove," said Coun Colella.
Bromsgrove District Council and Conservative leader, Coun Roger Hollingworth said the group did have a whip which members had to abide by on some issues and they feel they cannot do that.
"They feel like they cannot fight for the people in their parishes - they want to be independent and that's fine."
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