EDDC former Independent leader joins Conservatives
PUBLISHED: 18:00 15 June 2020
The former leader of East Devon District Council has said he was left with ‘no choice’ but to rejoin the Conservative Party if he wanted to make a difference.
Cllr Ben Ingham, who led the Independent Group on the council until two weeks ago, has since ‘crossed the floor’ and once again taken up membership of the Conservatives.
Cllr Ingham was previously a member of the Conservative Party but had resigned 15 years ago, and had in the intervening years been an Independent, before joining the East Devon Alliance, and then returning to being an Independent.
He was elected leader of the council last May, but following a number of defections that saw the initial 20-strong Independent Group fall to just 10, and the Democratic Alliance/Independent Progressive Group coalition hold more than half of the seats, resigned from the leadership last month.
Cllr Ingham said: “There were just 10 of us left and you need 10 for a cabinet, so it was not possible to carry on. I couldn’t have stood for leader as I would have needed others to prop us up, so we had a chat and decided it was correct to dissolve the cabinet and ‘cease the positions’ of the three who had left us. This forced the process for a new leader, which was right, as we could no longer hold the position.
“The long term policies for East Devon are so important for me and I’ve been an Independent for 15 years, so I don’t want to let go of my aspirations and ideas for the future of East Devon. They don’t fit in with the Democratic Alliance or the IPG, so thought, crikey, if I really believe in what I am doing and I don’t have faith in the Democratic Alliance and what they are trying to do, then if I want to participate then only the Conservative Group can be taken seriously.”
Cllr Ingham said: “I have learnt in the last year that they (Conservatives) quite admired our ideas and didn’t really challenge us on anything. They admired what we were doing and if I really mean it and want to make things happen, then I thought I have to join the Conservative Group and maybe in the future then we can make them happen.”
Cllr Ingham added that he will be explaining his ideas and proposals to the Group, as ‘some of them are really good for East Devon’, and hopes that they will be adopted by the party, but that making the jump back to the Conservatives was the only way his ideas could come to fruition.
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