Tory councillors leave party blaming issues with federation

Three Conservative Councillors in Bradford have left the party, blaming issues with the local Conservative Federation.

By Chris Young , Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 10:49 am

Luke Majkowski (Queensbury) and Joan Clarke (Wyke) this week announced they would now be continuing their Council duties as independents, joining Councillor Robert Hargreaves (Queensbury), who left the party to become an independent last year.

Coun Majkowski said it was a decision the trio “did not take lightly” adding: “We came to a situation where we feel we can no longer successfully work with the Bradford Conservative Federation.”

The Federation is the group of party officials that selects who stands as a Conservative candidate in local elections.

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The next election is in May.

Coun Majkowski, who was elected last year, as was Coun Clarke, said the decision was nothing to do with the Conservative Group – which represents Councillors once they are elected.

The news means the Bradford Labour Group has increased its majority on the Council, as the Conservatives held the most seats of any opposition group.

In a post on Facebook Coun Majkowski said: “The three of us feel we can no longer work successfully with them (The Bradford Conservative Association). We feel we are constantly fire fighting against them and the time and effort spent fire fighting against the Bradford Conservative Association is taking too much time away from carrying on as successful Councillors.”

He said the three of them would continue their Council work “with Conservative values” but separately from the party.

Councillor Rebecca Poulsen, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bradford Council said “It is sad and disappointing that hard working Conservative Councillors feel they cannot remain in the Conservative Party due to internal issues specifically within the Bradford South Constituency and will now represent their residents as Independent Councillors.

“All three bring great experience and skills to the role of a District Councillor and will be a loss to the Conservative Group on Bradford Council.

“I know going forward we will work on issues together where our views very much align.”

The Conservative Federation said: “It is unfortunate that the constituents of Queensbury and Wyke are unable to have the conservative councillors they voted and since the May 2021 election the Federation has made numerous attempts to engage with these Councillors however they had no interest in working with the Conservative Federation.”

In response to the Bradford Conservative Federation’s comment about the Councillors having ‘no interest in working with them’, Coun Mike Pollard (Con. Baildon), Chief Whip of the Conservative Group on Council said: “It is essentially true, but, frankly, I can’t say that I would condemn them for that!”

Keighley MP Robbie Moore and Shipley MP Philip Davies are currently pushing Government to split the Bradford District into two new authorities, with one Council representing Bradford and the other representing Keighley and Shipley.

Due to the three Councillors stepping away from the party, if this split went ahead at today, it would leave just one Conservative Councillor in the new Bradford Authority – Councillor Matthew Bibby (Queensbury).