Conservative selected to fill Labour seat after fraught town council meeting
- Credit: Archant
Following the resignation of a Labour councillor, Conservative members of Royston Town Council have voted to fill the vacancy with someone from their own party.
There were four applicants for the Royston Palace seat left by ex-Labour councillor Amy Bourke-Waite – Cathy Brownjohn, Brian Bylett, Dave Carter and King Mills.
In a town council meeting on Monday, Conservatives voted to fill the position with Conservative party member Brian Bylett, in what the Labour group described as “a move that Donald Trump would be proud of”.
A statement from the Labour group said: “This was a lost opportunity for the council to truly reflect the whole Royston community. Replacing a woman councillor with a middle aged white man, instead of the Labour nominee, Cathy Brownjohn, a black woman.
“This does not bode well for the Diversity Forum set up by the council, in the face of Tory opposition, in September.”
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Liberal Democrats previously called a by-election to fill another vacancy in Meridian ward left by Conservative councillor Vera Swallow.
At the council meeting on Monday, Conservative Cllr Mark Hughes criticised the decision, and explained this was the reason for their co-opting of the Labour seat, saying: “We should be selecting two councillors tonight, instead we are selecting one, as the Liberal Democrats have decided to call an election for the vacant seat caused by the resignation of former Cllr Vera Swallow, at a cost of £6,000.”
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The Lib Dems echo Labour’s view that Cllr Bourke-Waite’s vacancy should not have been co-opted by the Conservatives. Lib Dem Cllr Carol Stanier, who voted for Cathy Brownjohn as she was the replacement nominated by the Labour Party, 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.”
Councillors drew comparisons to 2016, when a Conservative councillor was nominated in place of a UKIP one. Lib Dem 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.”