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Cllr Elizabeth Turpin resigns from Medway Conservatives

The deputy leader of the Medway Conservatives has resigned.

Elizabeth Turpin, who is ward councillor for Strood Rural, has decided to step down over disagreements within the party.

Conservative councillor Andrew Gulvin will take over the Medway Tories as leader, backed by deputy leader Cllr Elizabeth Turpin. Picture: Medway Council
Conservative councillor Andrew Gulvin will take over the Medway Tories as leader, backed by deputy leader Cllr Elizabeth Turpin. Picture: Medway Council

In her letter to group leader Cllr Adrian Gulvin, she said several Tory councillors would not come to terms with the mistakes of previous administrations, something which put her at odds with her colleagues.

In particular, she said problems had been ignored and “pushed over the horizon” which had led to the difficult financial situation Medway Council now finds itself in.

Cllr Turpin said: “For years we have prided ourself on having the lowest council tax in Kent, but at what cost? Our services are stretched and continually needing to be cut.

“I feel it is time we are honest with our residents and demonstrate that we need to increase the council tax to protect services.

“It has been no secret that I have been at odds with some of the decisions we made as the administration over the past couple of years in power.

Ex-councillor Rupert with wife Elizabeth and their son Wilber
Ex-councillor Rupert with wife Elizabeth and their son Wilber

“I was hopeful that I could move on from those decisions, but unfortunately I feel some of those decisions have put this council in the financial situation.

“It has become more and more apparent that we have ignored problems coming over the horizon and postponed difficult decisions until time has now run out.”

She also criticised “political games” which got in the way of her initial reason for standing for election, representing those who cannot represent themselves such as her son who had complex special needs.

She continued: “I came to this role, inspired by my son Wilber. Unable to represent himself, he needed me and Rupert [Turpin, former Tory councillor for Rochester South and Horsted] to do so for him.

“Unfortunately, political games can often get in the way of this.

“Both sides of the chamber can get too focused on scoring points than doing what is best for residents.”

Cllr Turpin said she was resigning with sadness and regret, and that it was no reflection on Cllr Gulvin as leader.

She added she still believed in conservative ideals but she felt locally and nationally the Conservative party had not been upholding those ideals.

She added: “While we believe in personal responsibility, we also should hold equally strongly to support the most vulnerable in society.

“My medically complex special needs son did not get the help he deserved from local services in Medway.

“We are hugely grateful for the Demelza charity who were able to step in and care for him, and us, in his final days, when community nursing were unable to.”

Her son Wilbur was diagnosed with Chromosome 6 abnormality, which left him partially-sighted, non-verbal, small in stature and with hearing loss.

He passed away in January 2023, aged 9, of chronic kidney failure.

Cllr Turpin, who was first elected to the Strood Rural ward in 2019, will now sit as an independent councillor, however she says she hopes to continue working with her ward colleagues, Cllrs Etheridge and Williams.

MP for Rochester and Strood Kelly Tolhurst tweeted about her departure.

MP for Rochester and Strood Kelly Tolhurst
MP for Rochester and Strood Kelly Tolhurst

She said: “I am very saddened by her decision. I have known Elizabeth for some time and I was delighted when she was elected Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group following the local elections last May

“I have made clear to Elizabeth that I am always available to listen and talk to her whenever she needs support, both personally and professionally.

“I wish Elizabeth well for the future and I look forward to continuing working with her - in her capacity as a local councillor in my constituency - to achieve some of our shared ambitions for Rochester & Strood.”

Leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Adrian Gulvin said: "Last night Cllr Elizabeth Turpin informed us of her decision to resign the Conservative group whip.

"This Conservative Group is committed to supporting Rishi Sunak's government on delivery of his plan and holding the Medway Labour and Co-Operative Group to account for their leadership of Medway Council.

"We wish Councillor Turpin all the best."

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