Conservative leader calls for resignation and by-election after Calderdale councillor quits party for Change UK

Calderdale Conservative party leader Councillor Scott Benton, left, and Councillor Colin Peel
Calderdale Conservative party leader Councillor Scott Benton, left, and Councillor Colin Peel

A Calderdale councillor who has switched parties should resign his seat and fight a by-election, says his former group leader.

Brighouse ward councillor Colin Peel confirmed he was leaving the Conservative group and will now sit as a representative of Change UK.

So far Coun Peel has not elaborated on his reasons for switching but Conservative Group Leader on Calderdale Council, Coun Scott Benton, believes the issue of a second referendum over Brexit may have been a key issue.

In any case, Coun Benton, also a ward colleague as a Brighouse councillor, said that having switched allegiance Coun Peel should resign his seat and put himself up for election afresh.

Coun Benton said: “The Conservative Party is a broad church and we are always disappointed to lose members, whatever their views on local and national politics.

“The Conservative Party is determined to deliver Brexit and we are strongly opposed to holding a second EU Referendum,” he said.

“My understanding is that Coun Peel disagreed with this stance and so has chosen to join a small party whose only policy is to ignore democracy and to hold a second Referendum.”

But having been elected as a Conservative, Coun Peel should let Brighouse people decide afresh who should represent them, said Coun Benton.

“He was elected as a Conservative and should do the decent thing and resign his position as a councillor and let the people of Brighouse decide which Party they would like to be represented by in a by-election,” he said.

Coun Peel, elected as a councillor in 2016, has said he will in due course issue a statement explaining his reasons for switching party.

Coun Peel’s council roles include membership of the Planning Committee, the Licensing and Regulatory Committee and the Standards Committee.

Change UK was formed just months ago when several Labour and Conservative MPs left their respective parties and sat in Parliament as The Independent Group.

In April, it became a political party with former Conservative MP Heidi Allen as its leader.