LEIGH Town Council has fallen under Tory majority for the first time in its history, after nine of its 16 seats were returned unopposed by other candidates.
The town council’s seats are up for election on May 4 as part of nationwide local elections, but only seven outstanding seats are to be decided.
Formed in 1996, Leigh Town Council was set up as non-political, in that there were no political party groupings and no political party with overall control.
Coun Bernard Arscott, current councillor for Highlands Ward and spokesperson for the current Conservative Group on the Town Council said: “We are naturally delighted, as a group, to be returned to the Town Council to work hard on behalf of our local residents.
“It is disingenuous to local electors for councillors to say that they are totally neutral, or non-party, when they stand in elections for the City Council under a political banner. It is quite obvious that your political allegiance will influence, in some way, your decision making.
“We have stood in this election as Conservatives, to be open, transparent, and honest with the electorate.
“If people from other parties or groups are unhappy about the Conservatives taking control they should have fielded candidates to give local electors a choice.”
Commenting on the upcoming elections, Leigh town councillor and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Southend City Council, Carole Mulroney, disagreed that Leigh Town Council has always been a political organisation: “What was, and always has been, a totally non-partisan organisation, set up with the agreement it should be that way, will now be under Conservative control.
“I have never acted as a Lib Dem on the Town Council I have always been strictly non-partisan and I guard that preciously.”
Coun Mark Flewitt, who stood for Elm Ward, commented that the outcome was down to political process: “Leigh Town Council and all other smaller councils, including parishes, are prone to casual vacancies and apathy in serving on them.
“I was duly elected with two colleagues because nobody else put their names forward, simple as that.”
Leigh town Council Chairman Keith Evans added: “Firstly, I would like to congratulate the successful unopposed candidates on their election to the council.
“Only recently have politics been brought into this arena. Whilst councillors may have been of a particular persuasion or had a political preference, I believe these were left outside at the chamber door.
“However, I have been somewhat bemused by the recent rhetoric as the administration are all the councillors.
“16 people sat discussing and coming to an agreement on various matters and working for the good of the community. This is how it works. This is the lowest tier of local government and I’m not sure if it’s necessary for it to be politically led.
“I will look forward to working with all councillors if I’m re-elected and I wait with interest to see the enthusiasm and the direction the council will take.”
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