ROTHER Cllr Joanne Gadd this week announced she is leaving the Conservatives to become an Independent.
The decision is “one of the hardest” she’s ever made and it comes with condemnation of how the group is run within Rother District Council.
She has been a Conservative Councillor for St Mark’s Ward for 15 years but finds herself “at odds” with the “lack of democracy.”
She commented: “During this time I had the honour of being elected to the office of Chairman of Rother District Council and to serve two terms as Mayor of Bexhill. The position of Chairman being proposed and elected by the whole council is the normal procedure as an official duty.
However the office of Mayor is purely ceremonial and should be non-political with the 18 Bexhill Councillors choosing and voting for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Sadly, even that could be under threat because of political influences which have recently been exerted by the Conservative group.
This I found personally to be totally untenable.
Sadly over recent times I have found myself at odds with the local majority Conservative Group, they have reduced my ability to do my very best for the residents, to fight on issues which cause them concern and will continue to affect their lives.
While I appreciate I stood under this banner at every election since 1999 and had the support of many residents I have become increasingly at odds with the lack of democracy within the Council. I have found it almost impossible to represent those who elected me because of Party Politics.
It is totally unrealistic that out of the nine Cabinet members who make all the decisions only two are representing Bexhill but they always support the majority because the decision have to be unanimous.
I have therefore decided that if I am to be free to do my best for my Ward I have no alternative but to become an Independent Councillor with immediate effect.
I hope the residents of St Mark’s Ward will appreciate and respect how strongly I feel - I must be allowed to make their concerns and issues my prime concern.”
Leader Cllr Carl Maynard, when questioned about Mrs Gadd leaving the Conservatives, cited her “strong personal friendship” with Independent cllrs Stuart Earl and Deirdre Williams and added: “I suspect that is the main reason.”
However Cllr Earl said the news came as “a welcome surprise” to the Association of Independent Councillors and added: “We have great respect for Joanne who has shown tremendous courage to make this break... We will welcome her contribution and support on so many issues facing Bexhill.”