Further defection leaves Tories in disarray in Colnbrook’s would-be home of Spelthorne

From Get Surrey:

Those who campaigned for against Colnbrook’s move to neighbouring Spelthorne may breath a further sigh of relief as further evidence of Spelthorne’s political troubles is revealed. The list of former mayors leaving the Conservatives to become members of the opposition group in Spelthorne has grown after the latest defector “just felt like a change”.

The Spelthorne Independent Group (SIG), which formed earlier this year following the walkout of former borough boss Frank Ayers, will add Councillor Sam Budd, who was mayor last year, to its growing list of members.

Cllr Budd’s walkout now means the group already has three former mayors in its ranks to go alongside a former leader and a further three cabinet members.

Cllr Budd, ward member for Ashford North and Stanwell South said: “I just felt like a change, it is as simple as that and I am not making any further comment at this time.”

Cllr Ayers said: “Another former mayor has joined.

“That is four former cabinet members, including a former leader of the council, and three past mayors. I am absolutely delighted that Sam has decided to join us. He is a man who all of our group has the greatest respect for. He also always acts for the benefit of residents and that is the most important thing a councillor can do. He is an excellent addition to the Spelthorne Independent Group.”

The news means it is likely that Cllr Budd will face suspension from the Conservative party, as happened to the six SIG members, Cllrs Ayers, Bannister, Grant, Forsbrey, Bushnell and Patterson, who left the group to team up with independent councillor, and another former Conservative mayor, Caroline Spencer.

Gerry Ceaser, chairman of the Spelthorne Conservative Group, has twice been leader of the council having lost his grip on the borough only to be reappointed six years later.

He believes that far more can be achieved by staying within the group and knuckling down to business rather than by packing up and walking away.

Mr Ceaser said:

“I became leader and after a couple of years the group wanted change. It does make you wonder what was is going on but you accept it. Five or six years later the guy who beat me left and I was taken on again. What they do is entirely their business. I very much regret the action which everyone has taken and that they have not seen fit to back down and work together for the benefit of residents. My advice to the people who left the group is that it would have been far better to stay with the Conservative group and fight for what you believe from within.”

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