Published: 10:30, 02 August 2017
A would-be independent councillor has been branded “irresponsible and lacking integrity” after it emerged he backed the nomination of a Conservative candidate he was running against.
David Wimble stood in the by-election for the vacant New Romney seat on Shepway District Council on July 20 as an independent candidate.
But it has emerged Mr Wimble – a former Conservative district councillor – was among the supporters backing Tory candidate Russell Tillson’s nomination.
Nomination papers for Mr Tillson – who was re-elected to the council at last week’s poll after losing his seat in 2015 – show Mr Wimble’s signature and full name, William D. Wimble, on the forms as an assentor.
This was cross-checked with Mr Wimble’s own nomination papers with the same signature and full name given as William David Wimble.
The form filled out also featured the other names box filled in saying “David”.
Mr Wimble also ran in the county council elections and repeatedly stressed he had no links to political parties and national politics during the campaign for the by-election.
Labour candidate John Cramp said: “I’m all for independent candidates but if you are independent you must be independent.
“You can’t sign nomination papers [for the opposition] and present yourself to the electorate as fine and dandy and lilywhite.
“It’s irresponsible and lacks integrity and damages the democratic process. I’ve said that to him.”
Mr Wimble is editor of The Looker magazine, owned by Marsh Media and is listed as the company’s sole director.
Endorsing and being an assentor to another candidate while also running for election is not illegal according to electoral rules.
But in one campaign video, Mr Wimble said: “I’m very clear about what I stand for. I don’t care about national politics and I can’t be whipped by a party.
"It’s irresponsible and lacks integrity and damages the democratic process." Labour's John Cramp
“Vote for the person to best represent the town and not necessarily the party but the person.”
Other parts of his campaign criticised Conservative policy at Shepway District Council and he spoke out against Mr Tillson.
Mr Wimble said: “I believe that SDC, which is Tory-led and backed by Ukip, want 6,000 houses build on the Marsh over the next 10 to 15 years.
“I think enough is enough.
“If you vote for me, I will do my best to get the best deal for Romney Marsh.”
Mr Wimble was contacted for further comment but did not return our calls.
Ahead of the election Mr Wimble complained about intimidation during the campaign.
Speaking to the Express, he claimed he had received an offensive and threatening letter through his door the day before polls opened.
"I’ve been getting it from the Conservatives too. It’s a bit unfair. They’ve got 30 people campaigning. I’m just a one-man band." David Wimble
He said: “I’ve been suffering quite a lot of intimidation. A letter calling me a homophobic sham and saying if Labour get in watch your back. I’ve reported it to the police.
“I’ve been getting it from the Conservatives too. It’s a bit unfair. They’ve got 30 people campaigning for them and I’m just a one-man band.
“I’ve stood in a lot of elections and never had any difficulties and they seem to have taken a stand on that as I’m popular.”
In a campaign video in the days before the election, Mr Wimble said he had “not had a problem with anybody” during the campaign.
He said: “I’ve not had a problem with anybody in this by-election.
“The only problem I’ve had is some very negative press from Russell Tillson, the Conservative candidate.”
But Labour’s John Cramp posted an open letter damning The Looker’s coverage of the election.
It read: “Claiming you are independent is clearly untrue in my opinion.”
Cllr Tillson is back on the council after a two-year absence having lost his seat at the 2015 elections.
The council's former deputy leader, who lives in Church Road, New Romney, was re-elected with a 43 vote majority from Labour’s John Cramp.
The Conservatives held on to the seat following the resignation of Peter Simmons in May.
A turnout of just 27.2% saw Cllr Tillson take 566 votes (35.4%) with Labour on 523 votes (32.7%).
David Wimble took third place with 431 votes (26.9%) while Val Loseby for the Liberal Democrats had 77 votes.