The leader of Warwick District Council will step down but insists the Conservative party is not in turmoil despite resignations and fury at plans for thousands of new homes.
Cllr Michael Doody (Con, Radford) announced he would resign as leader after six years on December 4 due to ‘lack of loyalty and support’ from members of his party.
Explaining his decision to the KWN, he said: “Some members made it clear that they did not want me as leader and I accepted that I wasn’t wanted.
“There are a number of members who have pretended to be my friend but have worked actively against me. I hope they will have cause to regret their disloyalty in the near future.”
The shock move came alongside a growing rift within the party as three members - including Kenilworth’s John Dagg - left the political group to sit as independent members of the council.
Cllr Dagg (Ken, St John’s), who could not be contacted for comment by the KWN, left the group days before Cllr Doody announced he would step aside as leader.
Two Warwick members left the party after upset over the Local Plan and placement of thousands of new homes.
And as a result, the district council could be heading into turmoil as the Conservative party lost control amidst contentious decisions over the Local Plan.
The formerly ruling party has now lost Warwick councillors Linda Bromley and Anne Mellor, and Kenilworth councillor John Dagg after they all turned their back on the political group. The losses, on top of the suspension of Warwick’s Cllr Bob Dhillon means the party drops from 25 seats to 22 and loses its majority on the council.
And it all boils down to rows and upset over the contentious Local Plan, which sets out a framework for development and will identify sites for as many as 14,500 new homes and industrial sites to be built over the next decade.
The Government has stipulated the number of builds which must be taken on in the area and final figures will to be announced any day now.
So far at least 4,500 of the houses are proposed south of Warwick, Leamington and Whitnash, which has caused anger among members.
Just 700 homes are planned for Kenilworth at Thickthorn, which has proved unpopular in some more affected areas.
But councillors have previously defended the figure as proportionate as the town is ‘strangled’ by green belt land, the Gateway and looming HS2.
And thanks to the Town Action Plan questionnaire on development which was filled in by almost 2,000 people, members said they can be “proud” to go into discussions knowing what their residents want.
But decisions for the district are not set to come easily as final figures for the number of new houses it must take on are due in any day now.
And despite the uproar and chance for the three smaller parties to work together and take overall control of plans, Cllr Doody insists there is “no threat” to the Conservative party which will ensure the best for the district.
He told the KWN: “My decision to step down as leader is nothing like those who decided to run to the Independents.
“There are a lot difficult decisions to make and they were elected as Conservatives to make those decisions.
“If you don’t like what is being proposed then the best place to be to change that is the party with control. But there is certainly no threat to the party and I am confident the new leader will be a Conservative. I don’t see why the other parties would want to have to make these difficult decisions on the local plan just eighteen months before an election. Who would want to be in that position? The decisions are going to be very unpopular and we have to accept that.”
A new leader of the Conservative group is expected to be elected by November 11.
The conservative party has lost three members, but how does it leave the district council
Conservative seats - 22
Liberal Democrat seats - 9
Labour seats - 8
Independent seats - 7
The Conservative party has lost its majority of 1 seat, meaning members from the other three parties could form a coalition alliance and take council control.