Political furore after councillor defects from Tories

Cllr Colin Golding (left) has resigned the Tory whip; council leader Blake Pain (right) has attacked Cllr Golding's attendance record at group meetings. NNL-140326-185507003
Cllr Colin Golding (left) has resigned the Tory whip; council leader Blake Pain (right) has attacked Cllr Golding's attendance record at group meetings. NNL-140326-185507003

A war of words has broken out at Harborough District Council after the defection of a councillor from the ruling Tory group.

Councillor Colin Golding, one of four ward members for Broughton Astley, sent confirmation of his resignation letter to the press last Tuesday.

He is resigning the Conservative whip and will remain on the council as an independent.

But the Tory group’s leader – and leader of the district council – Blake Pain last Wednesday issued a riposte and attacked Cllr Golding’s record as a councillor.

Cllr Golding, of Willsmer Close, Broughton Astley, was elected to the district council in 2008 and was the portfolio holder for community safety and enforcement.

He said; “I wish to make public the fact that I have withdrawn with immediate effect from Harborough District Council Conservative Group and for the remainder of the current council term intend to sit as an independent member representing Broughton Astley (Broughton ward).

“I regret that my personal standards and those of certain members of the current Conservative administration do not align and I cannot compromise my principles by continuing to be seen to support an organisation which operates with such individuals at the helm.

“I have increasingly more issues outside my council role which demand my time and energy and it is my current intention to represent the residents of Broughton ward to the best of my ability for the remainder of the council term which expires in May 2015.”

Cllr Golding, who was born in Northampton, worked for BT for more than 30 years before taking early retirement in 2000.

Cllr Pain has said in his reply to Cllr Golding, which he has sent to the press: “Further to our exchange of email yesterday, I am disappointed in your decision to go ahead and issue your resignation from the Harborough District Council Conservative Councillors Group, without bothering to contact me further or putting your position across to the group as suggested.

“Your resignation is, however, accepted and I am so advising the Conservative party chairman for South Leicestershire and the various constituent bodies, that you no longer hold the Conservative whip as an elected member of the district council.

“Your comments about various members of the group and particularly myself are unwarranted and without justification. You have shown by your non-attendance at group meetings a complete disregard for the Conservative group since I was elected leader in May 2013.

“You have also attended only nine official council meetings including zero scrutiny commission meetings during the past year.

“In spite of your lack of engagement as a member of the Conservative group and the executive, other Broughton Astley ward members and the wider group have worked hard to deliver for the area that you represent: supporting the delivery of the Broughton Neighbourhood Plan; securing valuable, albeit threatened section 106 contributions; interventions to the Secretary of State urging a rejection of planning application 12/00494/OUT; earmarking a capital investment of £180,000 to resurface and improve the Broughton Astley car park, within the constraints of challenging financial times and an extremely limited capital programme.

“Clearly, the Harborough District Council Conservative group are delivering for Broughton Astely in spite of your withdrawal during the past year.

“With the above said, may I thank you for your contribution in previous years and trust that you will, in time, reflect back on the positive work and contributions the Harborough District Council Conservative Group have delivered in the interests of the Broughton ward and, of course, the wider district.”

Cllr Golding is a non-executive director of the Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust, where he is chairman of its audit committee.

He has been a parish councillor since 1997 and chaired Broughton Astley Parish Council from 2002-2011.

His outside interests include allotment gardening, angling, countryside walking and supporting the Leicester Tigers rugby team, according to the profile.

Story by Alex Blackwell

Follow Alex on Twitter, @BlackwellHarb.