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Former Independent Maidstone councillor switches to Conservative group

A former Independent councillor has crossed the floor to join the Conservatives.

Michelle Hastie’s switch has increased the size of the Conservative group on Maidstone council to 25.

Cllr Michelle Hastie - now a Conservative
Cllr Michelle Hastie - now a Conservative

With a total of 55 members, it is still not enough for an outright majority.

However, it is sufficient to give the current council leader David Burton confidence he will not be challenged at the council’s annual general meeting in the Town Hall on Saturday morning.

Under the terms of the constitution, Cllr Burton remains as leader unless there is a vote of no confidence in him.

Cllr Hastie said that while her move was not necessarily an endorsement of the Conservative Party’s national policies, she liked what had been happening at a local level.

She said: “I’ve known David (Burton) a long while now and I like his style of leadership.

“He actually gets things done.

‘I felt that the best way I could be effective for my constituents was to join the Conservatives’

“With the Independents fragmenting, with the creation of a new Green/Independent group, I felt that the best way I could be effective for my constituents was to join the Conservatives.”

Cllr Hastie is not new to switching sides. She was first elected as a Liberal Democrat in 2016 serving four years until 2020. Then in 2021, she was re-elected to North Ward again as a Liberal Democrat. She later left the party to become an Independent.

Acknowledging that a year was a long time in politics, she said that it was her current intention to stand again at the next elections in May 2024, when the whole of the council will be up for renewal.

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