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Jumping Ship

Jumping ShipIn our Consequences article of January, we said we had heard there were elements within his own side who were shaping up to challenge David Eaves for the leadership of the Conservative Group (and thus the Council), and we expected things to come to a head in April or May.

We'd picked up gossip about secret meetings - where sides were being taken.

We thought the most likely candidates for a challenge would be Dim Tim or Princess Karen and, of the two, we thought Princess Karen to be the more likely.

Having been wounded by the Melton Grove scandal, and having subsequently supported Cllr Ackers who (rightly in our view) took a lot of flak for her role in that appalling mess, David Eaves looked vulnerable.

We also thought that because he has not acted to remove those around him who were seen as less than competent, we mused that some of the newer members of the Council must be wondering just what they have got themselves into, and they might be seduced to support the Princess, if only for the sake of change - and Cllr Eaves could find that Melton Grove became his nemesis.

We said that if the Princess was supported by some of the newer members, and she did decide to challenge for the leadership, we thought it was likely to split the group, and that could mean some of the greyer ones stepping aside or crossing the floor.

We thought she couldn't afford that, and we speculated that the atmosphere in the Conservative group at that time would be an uncomfortable one of positioning, and promises, and clandestine discussions.

Then in our Snippets article in February, we heard from our Blue Mole that the Conservative Group meeting had shown its disciplinarian side and imposed restrictions on speaking to the press after letters were sent to the paper by Conservative Councillors like Frank Andrews and Peter Wood (who wrote to the Express against speeding limits, and increased spending by councils).

We concluded by saying "Newer Fylde Conservative Councillors will now have to decide whether they were elected as individuals, or elected because they carried the Conservative tag. If the former, we might see some principled ones leaving the group and becoming independent or non aligned. If the latter, they'd better shut up and put their pens down. Sadly, if history is any precedent, we expect the latter to prevail."

More recently, we heard bits of gossip suggesting that Princess Karen might not challenge David Eaves for the Leadership of the Conservative Group  if she was supported in a bid to stand as a County Councillor in St Annes South, the ward that Cllr Fabian Craig Wilson currently occupies. 

Messy business, politics.

If that were to be effected, the likely process would be that Cllr Craig Wilson would either resign or be 'de-selected' (as Cllrs Jealous Thompson and Walton were in the night of the Commissar's long knives), and a new candidate would be chosen as the Conservative candidate for that seat before the next LCC elections in a year's time.

Well on Monday, the Conservative Group's annual meeting was held, and two significant points have emerged.

Firstly, David Eaves is remaining as leader of the group, and thus the Council.So we'll be watching whether Princess Karen gets a County Council candidacy in the forthcoming LCC elections.

But the more startling news was that Cllr Peter Wood has become the first of the new intake to say he's had enough and has resigned from the Council - just one day after the Conservative annual meeting.

He's jumped ship.

We've not heard directly from him but the word on the streets seems to be that he works away a lot, and is struggling with the concept of being required to come back to take part in meetings only to vote as he is told.

Words like 'frustrated' and 'disillusioned' are (unsurprisingly in our view) falling from the lips of some of his colleagues.

So it would appear that he, at least, has enough about him to take a principled stand.

We wish him well, and would be very pleased to see him stand as an Independent candidate - either at what will shortly be a by-election in Heyhouses ward, or at a future election.

Dated:  17 May 2012

UPDATE 19 MAY 2012
We had a copy of former Cllr Peter Wood's resignation letter provided to us and thought readers might like  to see it.:

"It has been an absolute honour to serve on Fylde Borough Council and I still remember the feeling of satisfaction, pride and responsibility on winning the election. However, last year I was selective and turned business away to accomadate council duties, then the business knocked a little less. So work has demanded more of my attention. Attending council meetings and participating in council activities has become harder, an example of this has been a number of times where I have been working away and then driving over 500 miles around trip to attend a 7 o'clock meeting. This has not been good for me and it is certainly not good for the people of Heyhouses. So it is after a lot of soul searching and with significant regret that I handed in my notice as the Councillor for Heyhouses Ward. I know that standing and being elected is not a spectator sport and the people who got up and went out of their way to vote expected that I would represent them as best as I could. So when I couldn't give you that 100% focus, I felt I had to stand aside for someone who would.

I truly think the work being done by Fylde Borough Council under the Conservatives and new Chief Executive Allan Oldfield, has the potential to be a standard bearer for good performance and efficiency in local government. This requires councillor commitment not a distracted bit part player. I wish to say thank you to my co-councillors, Viv Willder and Nigel Goodrich. Both of them work really hard to do what is right for people. I remain a firm Conservative and I believe that this Government has a plan that will work in our best interest to bring long-term recovery. I want to wish to thanks the councillors, officers and FBC team who welcomed me in and the electors for their trust.

Best Wishes,
Pete Wood"


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