4:00pm deadline today for Council election nominations
As we forecast a couple of weeks ago, relationships within the Conservative party n York have hit a new low. It has been confirmed that a fourth former member of the Tory group will join 3 others in standing as “independents” in the Council election on 2nd May. The latest Councillor to jump ship (be pushed) is Haxby Councillor Tony Richardson who describes the local Tory Group as “toxic”. He joins John Galvin, Suzie Mercer and David Carr as former Tories now turned independent candidates.
Tory Leader Ian Gillies has already announced that he is standing down from the Council and he is expected to be joined by Sam Lisle and Helen Douglas when the candidate lists are announced at 4:00pm today.
Thus, of 14 people originally elected as Conservatives in May 2015, no more than 7 will seek re-election.
The Tories do hope to bring back Sian Wiseman in the Strensall Ward. She was a Councillor between 2007 and 2011 but herself quit the Tory group, to sit for a time as an independent, following a possible conflict of interest row relating to the Local Plan.
Sceptics may think that the “Gang of Four” will have a better chance of success standing as Independents given the parlous state of the Tory party regionally and nationally. Tory Police and Crime Chief Julia Mulligan has also announced that she is quitting while the BREXIT turmoil is taking its inevitable toll on opinion poll ratings.
Incredibly, the controversial Tony Richardson was until this week the deputy Leader of the Conservative Group. That mantle has now passed to the photogenic, but largely ineffectual, Stuart Rawlings. He is the potential replacement for Ian Gillies as Leader of the Conservatives after the May poll.
It seems increasingly unlikely that there will be a Tory presence on the Council to lead. They were wiped out in 2003 and as similar fate may await their candidates this May.
Labour has already been through a similar pre-election turmoil with 3 of the 15 Councillors elected in May 2015 having already quit.
2 more now sit as independents.
Whatever happens on May 2nd, the City can’t look to the traditionally larger parties to provide stability and experience in what is likely to be a difficult year for the City.