In a fraught Town Council meeting on Monday 30th November, Conservative councillors voted to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of ex Labour councillor Amy Bourke-Waite with a Conservative party member.
There were four applicants for the vacancy: Cathy Brownjohn, Brian Bylett, Dave Carter and King Mills.
Cllrs Ruth Brown and Carol Stanier said that they had voted for Brownjohn as she was the replacement for ex-Cllr Bourke-Waite, as nominated by the local Labour party. Cllr Stanier said “The residents of Palace ward voted for two Labour councillors in May 2018 and now they have none. This appointment does not reflect the wishes of the public and is an insult to democracy”.
The Lib Dem councillors were told previously that the local Labour party had agreed with the town council Conservative leadership that the Conservatives would not stand a candidate against the Labour candidate. In the spirit of co-operation the Liberal Democrats also agreed not to stand a candidate and to support the Labour one.
Bylett has previously spoken on behalf of the local Conservative party, stood as an unsuccessful Conservative party candidate and is a current party member.
The event is a bizarre rerun of the events following the resignation of UKIP councillor Paula McGlynn in 2016, in which the Conservative majority appointed a Conservative councillor in place of a UKIP one, making front page news and causing outrage locally. Cllr Ruth Brown said “I am outraged that they have again co-opted a Conservative to a Labour seat. They have demonstrated that they have no respect for the electorate and cannot be trusted.”