Westminster Conservatives in disarray

The ‘West End Extra’ reports;

“WESTMINSTER Council’s ruling Conservative group have been accused of being in “disarray” as a string of senior politicians quit their positions or make plans to leave the borough.

Housing chief Jonathan Glanz was forced to resign last week and will not be replaced, while several Tories are eyeing up parliamentary seats in other parts of the country.

Leader of Westminster Labour group Paul Dimoldenberg said: “Westminster Conservatives are in disarray.

“Many see Westminster as just a ‘stepping stone’ on their political career and are happy to use the city council for their own personal ends.

“Meanwhile those who are left on the council get landed with more work to do.”

City Hall’s transport chief has shown he is looking to leave local politics and relocate to Westminster Palace as he enters the running in two parliamentary candidate races.

Ed Argar has put himself forward as a prospective candidate for Newark in Nottinghamshire and Tonbridge and Malling in Kent.

This weekend local Tories in the two areas will decide if they want Cllr Argar to represent them at the 2015 general election.

If successful this weekend Cllr Argar said he would have a “conversation” with council leader Philippa Roe about what “he did and didn’t do” in Westminster. He said: “I have served thus far for seven and half years and I may serve many more.

“Of those seven-and-a-half years, I have served five-and-a-half in the cabinet. Westminster has had, and continues to have, good service out of me.”

It follows the departure of Cllr Glanz who resigned after making comments that Cllr Roe admitted “may have caused offence” to local residents.

But instead of replacing Cllr Glanz – who had the vital role of looking after all the council’s property, including social housing – his duties were divided between three cabinet members who already look after the running of other services.

Meanwhile Lee Rowley, a councillor in Maida Vale, has been selected to run for a seat in North East Derbyshire and is believed to be spending an increasing amount of time in the constituency he hopes to serve after 2015.

Another Maida Vale councillor Alastair Moss, who heads the planning committee, will be stepping down in 2014 and in the meantime has already taken up a role as local councillor in neighbouring City of London.

In the local elections in May, West End councillor Frixos Tombolis will be leaving the ward he has represented for seven years and is hoping to be elected in Maida Vale.

Cllr Dimoldenberg said: “In addition to Jonathan Glanz’s sacking, Ed Argar is looking for a safe Tory seat and Lee Rowley has not been seen for months, as he is away in Derbyshire trying to get into parliament. Alastair Moss is already ‘semi-detached’ and leads a ‘double life’ on the City Corporation, while Frixos Tombolis has abandoned the West End. And that’s just the ones we know about.”

Cllr Argar disputed the claims that Westminster is viewed as a political “stepping stone” and said: “In any London borough there is always churn among councillors. That’s just the nature of politics. But I don’t think anyone could credibly suggest anything along the lines of people shortchanging residents and moving on swiftly – and equally I don’t think anyone could suggest a disproportionately high level of churn in Westminster.

“Arguably the way it’s looking in Westminster there will be fewer people leaving the council than in previous elections.”

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