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David Wimble, New Romney independent councillor for Folkestone and Hythe District Council, defends alliance with Conservatives

ByMolly Mileham-Chappell

An independent district councillor has defended his decision to form a political alliance, after being approached by the Conservatives following a shock local election.

Cllr David Wimble, who was elected last week to represent New Romney ward on Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC), has insisted he will be voting on council decisions 'purely independently', despite joining forces with Ukip and Tory councillors.

It comes after the Folkestone and Hythe Conservative leader Cllr David Monk exclusively confirmed to KentOnline yesterday he had reached a agreement with councillors from different standpoints, after his party lost its majority.

David Wimble at previous council elections in Folkestone. Picture: Gary Browne
David Wimble at previous council elections in Folkestone. Picture: Gary Browne

Speaking after the announcement, Cllr Wimble said: "I made it very clear when I was elected that I was not prepared to join the Conservative party. However, I would talk to anybody from any party if they wanted to form a coalition.

"The only people who reached out for discussion was the Conservative party, I explained that I was happy to represent Romney Marsh as part of a coalition.

"I did so on the condition that my voting would be purely independent."

Cllr Wimble - a former Conservative district councillor - is one of three councillors who have allied with the 13 elected Tories.

The other two are Ukip councillors Ian Meyers and Terry Mullard, who both represent Romney Marsh ward.

Cllr David Wimble. Picture: Martin Apps
Cllr David Wimble. Picture: Martin Apps

Despite waves of criticism from Romney Marsh residents on social media about his move, Cllr Wimble added reaction has not been entirely negative: "I have been heartened by some of the comments on social media stating that it was the right thing to do instead of just sitting on the back bench as a lone voice.

"I can now play a part in the way that the council is run and - despite what some people have said - have not sold out anything."

Cllr Wimble previously made headlines in 2017 after after it emerged he backed a by-election nomination of a Conservative candidate who he was running against as an Independent.

The councillor, who is known in the district for being the editor of The Looker magazine, confirmed a specific role within in the council has not yet been decided for him: "At this moment in time, I have not been offered any positions but have expressed that I would like to be involved with promoting Romney Marsh and also the creation of jobs within the area.

"It is down to the council if they want to give me a position on any particular working group, and I think this can be the start of a very good positive outcome for the people of New Romney."

The FHDC elections count at the Three Hills Sports Park on Friday morning (9779945)
The FHDC elections count at the Three Hills Sports Park on Friday morning (9779945)

The Conservatives, who previously held 23 seats on the council, lost 10 in the early hours of Friday morning when the district council's election results were announced.

There are 30 seats on the council in total, meaning the Conservatives would have had to secure 16 or more seats to retain their stronghold. The night's results led to Cllr Monk stating at the time he would seek to form an administration with others.

Thousands of residents turned out to the polling stations across the district last Thursday to have their say on who should represent them amid one of the most turbulent and unpredictable political backdrops across the country in years.

The rest of the council is now made up of six Green Party councillors, six Labour councillors and two Liberal Democrats.

The Labour Party in the district have today issued a statements about the administration: "The Folkestone and Hythe Labour Party along with the Shepway Green Party and the Folkestone and Hythe Liberal Democrats have held constructive discussions on how to work together for the benefit of the district.

"Unfortunately, we do not have the numbers between us to form an administration.

"We can categorically state that we have not entered into discussions or made any deals with any parties or individuals we felt we could not trust or who did not share our values."

Cllr Wimble was also elected as a New Romney town councillor.

Cllr Meyers and Cllr Mullard have also been contacted for comment.

For more elections coverage, click here.

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