Disillusioned councillor quits

A FORMER chairman of Waveney District Council has quit the authority after becoming 'disillusioned' at the way the local Conservative group is being run.

Sandra Keller, who has represented the Oulton Broad ward for nine years, resigned on March 8 after discovering that the Tories' leadership team wanted her to stand in another ward.

It comes three weeks after husband and wife George and Pat Hawes resigned from Waveney Conservative party, citing personal and political reasons. They have remained on the council as independents.

Mrs Keller, council chairman from 2003 to 2005, told The Journal: 'I've become so disillusioned in the past few months that this was an easy decision to make. It comes down to the fact that I've got my own mind, and I do not like being dictated to. I've been a serving councillor for nine years, chairman for two of those. I gave an awful lot to the council and I am angry it's ended this way.'

All 48 seats in Waveney will be up for grabs when the council holds its first ever all-council elections in May.

Mrs Keller, a care worker who has sat on a number of committees, said she informed the Conservative group last November, during a meeting to chose new candidates, that she would resign if she was asked to move to another ward. A party is entitled to ask its canditates to stand in wards of its choosing.

Last month, Mrs Keller was asked if she would stand in Oulton, rather than Oulton Broad.

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'I made it clear to (council leader) Mark Bee months ago that I did not want to move wards,' she said. 'I've been invited to a meeting to discuss it, but I don't need to go to a meeting. I've already made my decision.

'I was asked if I'd like to cross the floor, but I've been a staunch Conservative since I can remember and I still believe in the basic principles. I just do not believe that councillors are voted in to toe the line.'

Mr Bee said it was 'unfortunate' Mrs Keller had opted to quit. He said: 'The party has an executive which looks at the allocation of seats and the view was taken that we wanted to put experienced councillors with potentionally new candidates. We offered Sandra the Oulton seat.

'We would have been delighted if she had accepted that. It's unfortunate that she didn't want to take that seat. She is an experienced councillor and it's unfortunate has taken the decision that she has.'

Mrs Keller, who lives in Burnt Hill Way, Oulton Broad, said she would continue to raise money for local charities, and wanted to thank constituents for their support over the years.

Postbox, pages 20 and 21.