Updated: Fenland's group of four independents double their number to eight
First there were four, then there were five, five became six and by 9am this morning there eight members of the new Fenland independents movement.
On Thursday Wisbech town councillor Andy Maul became the fifth Conservative to leave the party to join the group set up earlier this month by Councillors Michelle Tanfield, Will Sutton, Mike Cornwell and Fred Yeulett.
The aim of the group is to fight the upcoming local elections on May 2 and according to them there could be more still to join.
Coun Maul, who has been a town councillor since August 2016 representing Waterlees Ward, will be fighting for both the town and district seat for that ward.
Over the weekend former Wisbech mayor Nick Meekins announced he had joined the band and would be fighting to represent Peckover Ward on both town and district council.
On Monday Coates town councillor Bob Wicks became member number seven, and like his fellow cohorts will be fighting for both town and district on May 2. Then this morning (Tuesday) Peter Freeman was announced as the eighth member and he will be looking to take Hill Ward for the independents at both town and district level.
All four of the new members have cited their discontent with the Conservatives and their strangle-hold over the district.
Coun Maul said: “I have always been a Conservative, which is why it was natural for me to fight the by-election in August 2016 as Conservative. But to be honest I have always felt politics doesn’t really have a place at a local level. I have found the town council to be too political and to be honest I am far from that.
“I have been thinking about this decision for several weeks it. I am always quite vocal in discussions, but I don’t believe in voting against a proposition just because it has been put by someone who is not a Conservative.
Mr Meekins, who was Wisbech mayor in 2010 left politics in 2012, but said that after trying to make a difference from outside it was time to rejoin the fray and fight for change inside the local authorities. He is particularly keen to make an impact on the town council, where he believes there is a need for change.
Coun Wicks resigned the Conservative whip in October and said he was always part of the original four but was on holiday at the time they announced their intentions.
He too believes there is no room for politics in local government and that people should vote for what they believe is the right thing for the community regardless of their party.
Mr Freeman said: “Over the last few years I have become very saddened to see the decline of our town centre and the prevalence of street drinking and illegal parking. I have taken a particular interest in our once thriving market place and started to attend Wisbech Town Council meetings to see first hand what decisions were being made.
“I began to think I would like to be involved in the decision-making process rather than sit on the sidelines. Four years ago I voted Conservative on both town and district, having been a Conservative voter for more than 30 years but have decided to stand as an independent as I don’t believe it should be politics first, population second - which I believe to be happening at the moment.”
Councillors Sutton, Cornwell, Tanfield and Yeulett cited the unfairness of the way three of the four had failed to be re-selected to stand by the North East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association, as one of the reasons for breaking with the Tories.
All eight of the new group feel confident about challenging the Conservative strangle hold on Fenland and believe they have very similar thoughts on what needs to be done for the area.
To get details of how you can stand with the independents email firstname.lastname@example.org