Two of Wetherby’s leading councillors have resigned from the Conservative Party stating that party interests are taking precedence over community interest.
Coun Cindy Bentley, who has been a Conservative for 16 years and is chairman of Welcome to Wetherby, and Kazia Knight, who is chairman of the award-winning Sandringham Park and has been a councillor for six years, will serve as independent councillors until the local elections on May 2.
“We plan to stand as Wetherby Independent candidates, along with Coun Denise Podlewska,” said the statement issued to the Wetherby News.
Important local and national issues brought around the change of heart in politics.
Coun Bentley told the News: “Kazia and I feel that the whole Wetherby High issue was very badly handled at both a national and local level with Wetherby’s interests not being given adequate consideration.
“It was this situation which precipitated our decision to resign from the Conservative Party.
“The chaos over Brexit and the feeling that the Conservative Party is still putting party interests first has only confirmed that our decision to resign is the right one for us.”
She added: “As Independents, we will continue to work for the benefit of Wetherby as we have always done.
“Kazia, Denise and I are all members of the Welcome to Wetherby team and dedicated to doing whatever we can to keep our town vibrant and thriving.
“We will look at each issue as it arises and judge it on its merits. For example, we, along with the rest of the town council, disagree with the Leeds City Council plan to impose parking charges on the Wilderness car park which will bring no visible benefit to the town.”
Coun Knight added: “We three Independents - Cindy, Denise and myself - alongside the rest of Wetherby Town Council, plan to work hard for the Wetherby community on the issues which we know effect them greatly.”
Speaking on behalf of the Conservative Town and Ward Councillors, Coun Alan Lamb said he was “saddened” at the resignations.
“We have been aware that for some time now their views have diverged considerably from those of the party they were elected to represent,” he told the News.
“Conservative Town and Ward Councillors have a strong record of delivering for our community.
“We have improved playgrounds across Wetherby; delivered the speed indication devices to tackle speeding motorists; secured over £1m to improve the Cluster of Nuts car park; and abolished the charges on it.
“It is Conservatives leading the fight to stop Leeds’ Labour Council introducing charges to our car parks.”
He added: “Nationally, the Conservatives have delivered an economy where unemployment is at a record low; investment in the NHS at a record high; and more young people than ever before are in good or outstanding schools, including children living in Wetherby.”
l For the full resignation letter, turn to Readers’ Views on page 30