THE CONSERVATIVES have lost their overall majority on Rugby Borough Council after one of their councillors quit the party in protest at the possibility of Rugby joining the proposed West Midlands ‘super-council’.
Coun David Ellis, who represents Wolston and the Lawfords, will sit as an independent after Rugby Borough Council decided last week to continue discussing all options.
The Conservatives now control a ‘hung’ council, with their 21 seats matched by the total number of non-Tory councillors.
Coun Ellis, who has responsibility for the armed forces covenant at the council, feared the structure of the new authority would lead to tax rises, and decisions on Rugby’s services being made by “distant Birmingham-centric bureaucrats”.
He said: “I warned the Conservative group that if they did not stop talks over joining the West Midlands Combined Authorities then I would be forced to leave.
“I believe the plans for the Town to join a combined authority would potentially lead to tax rises for the residents I represent. It also seems inevitable that decisions that affect Rugby would be made by distant Birmingham-centric bureaucrats.
“If I had remained a Conservative it would mean I was supporting a group that was undertaking a dangerous experiment with no tangible benefits.
“I will continue my work as a councillor, but will work independent of any political party. In this role I will be able to vote to the benefit of my residents without the fear of a party whip.”
Coun Michael Stokes, leader of Rugby Borough Council, could not be reached for comment today (Monday October 12).
At a special meeting last Thursday (October 8), councillors voted not to join the proposed new council’s shadow board as a non-constituent member.
They did, however, decide to explore other potential local authority partnerships and review their position once the proposed authority’s final structure and constitution had been confirmed.