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Cllr Mike Eddy stands down as Dover district Labour leader to join Green Party

By Sam Lennon

An opposition leader has left his post after more than 20 years because of bullying, he has claimed.

The former Labour leader in Dover and Deal, Mike Eddy, has joined the Green Party and becomes its first elected councillor in Dover district.

He stunned the area's political world with his announcement at Dover seafront on Friday afternoon where he claimed the push factors came from "a lot of nastiness in the labour group" and a "constant stream of what I'd call bullying emails."

Cllr Mike Eddy today
Cllr Mike Eddy today

He revealed: "I''d had enough of that. I want to get on with dealing with the Tories and the damage that they're doing to the people of the Dover district.

"I don't want to play silly games."

Cllr Eddy has been leader of the Dover District Council opposition for 10 years.

When asked who his replacement will be, he just said: "That's for them to sort out."

It has since been confirmed deputy district leader Cllr Bill Gardner will replace him immediately.

A permanent leader will be chosen by the week ending November 18.

He added: "There is a limit to what one can take - that any human being can take - so I decided 'that's enough, I've had enough. I want out.'

"It's a shame but that is the way in which certain people are trying to play it."

He revealed he had not told the party at the time of his exclusive interview with our reporter.

"They will be told during the course of the day.

"If they're told in advance all sorts of other things might well happen," he said.

Charlotte Cornell. Picture: Gus Campbell Photography
Charlotte Cornell. Picture: Gus Campbell Photography

After the news reached her, Charlotte Cornell Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Dover, said: "I am shocked. I personally had a great relationship with Mike and have a lot of respect for him as a politician.

"I am surprised that he didn't tell people I know that he liked and who liked him. I am disappointed by that.

"There are fallouts in all local political parties but I always saw Mike as a stalwart leader committed to socialist values.

"I really am shocked and we are universally shocked in the Labour group. We have great respect for Mike."

Ms Cornell said, there would be an emergency Labour meeting within seven days to decide on a permanent leader. Cllr Gardner is a possibility if he is willing.

Cllr Eddy with Dover Green Party member Beccy Sawbridge during today's annoucement
Cllr Eddy with Dover Green Party member Beccy Sawbridge during today's annoucement

In a press release prepared before his interview and photocall, Cllr Eddy, said: "I’m excited to join a party which believes in putting power in local people’s hands”

He added that he had made the move after being impressed by the Green Party’s commitment to making sure “local decisions are made by local people and their representatives.”

The district member for the Mill Hill ward in Deal said he was also galvanised to make the change by the Green Party’s commitment to scrap Universal Credit.

The scheme's opponents say it has left people in Dover District facing poverty since its rollout in July this year.

Cllr Eddy also backed the Green's campaigns to tackle air pollution and protect Dover and Deal’s green spaces and biodiversity.

He added: "Whether it’s standing up against the damage that May’s government's decisions will inflict on the port and community in Dover, or fighting to scrap Universal Credit, the Green Party is committed to making sure local decisions are made by local people.

“The decision to leave Labour after 10 years as leader of the opposition was not made lightly, but it was the right one.

"I am a firm believer that no one has the monopoly on wisdom and look forward to working together with progressive local councillors and my new Green colleagues to make sure the people of Dover District and Deal Town are not overlooked or left behind.”

Former Labour leader Cllr Mike Eddy has joined the Green Party
Former Labour leader Cllr Mike Eddy has joined the Green Party

Cllr Eddy, 66, said that he had joined the Green Party for the first time o Friday, having left Labour only the day before.

He was a Dover district councillor from 1995 to 1999 and again since 2007. He was its Labour group leader for the last 10 years until now.

He stays on the district council.

In addition Cllr Eddy was a Labour member of Kent County Council from 1997 to 2009 and group leader there from 2004 to 2009. His last membership of KCC was from 2013 to 2017.

He has been a Deal town councillor for three-and-a-half years and previously from 1996 to 1999.

The next district, town and parish elections are in May.

Green co-leader Sian Berry greets Cllr Eddy as a new member today
Green co-leader Sian Berry greets Cllr Eddy as a new member today

A spokesman for Dover and Deal Green Party said: “We are delighted to welcome Mike on board, and now look forward to making a few changes in the district.”

Cllr Eddy was joined in Friday's seafront announcement by Green co-leader Sian Berry and fellow party members.

Ms Berry, who is a member of the London Assembly, said: “History has been made in Dover today (Friday) with Mike joining us as the first Green councillor for the district.

"Mike has a track record for standing up for what matters to the people of Dover district and Deal town and it’s a privilege to welcome him to our party.

"The local Green Party is already a growing force for good here and I have no doubt he will be a valuable addition to that work."

She commented that the people of Dover must “have a say on their future” concerning Brexit.

This is after local freight clearance experts warned Dover would be hit by gridlock if there is not the right deal.

She continued: “Dover is on the Brexit frontline with the port and community set to feel the full force of the damaging policies the government is pursuing, and Greens are committed to making sure people in every community in the country have a say on their future in or out of the EU and how the impact of any Brexit deal is felt in their area.

"The Dover and Deal Green Party will work with local people to make sure journeys to work, schools and health appointments are not subject to gridlock, that the vulnerable are not further beset by food and fuel poverty."

Martin Whybrow, the only Green county councillor
Martin Whybrow, the only Green county councillor

Martin Whybrow, representing Hythe West, is the only Green county councillor.

He said: “Mike is an excellent addition to our Green councillors. I am delighted to welcome him.

"I got to know Mike at KCC and he is hard-working, principled and knowledgeable.

"He did an excellent job of holding the Conservatives in power to account and working for residents.

"He will join 176 other Green Party councillors of principal authorities nationally, and another 220 Green town and parish councillors.”

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