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Councillors react to latest Conservative defect at District Council

District councillor John Rest.  Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

District councillor John Rest. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2015

Following the news that a third councillor this year has left the Conservative party at the North Norfolk District Council, fellow councillors have expressed their views on the defect of John Rest.

Mr Rest has announced that he will now be serving his ward of Fakenham Lancaster South as an Independent councillor.

He follows the footsteps of fellow councillor Georgie Perry-Warnes, who also defected to be independent in June this year. Ms Perry-Warnes said: “I am happy that John has joined me as an Independent, but unhappy that not enough appears to have changed and he has felt the need to leave the group.”

The Corpusty ward councillor added: “I think that the way the cabinet system is implemented has led to a ‘top down’ management style; and I am uncomfortable with the tribalism which I consider informs so much of our interaction, both within the Conservative group and between political parties.

“In my opinion, local government should not be as heavily associated with national politics as I have found it to be here. “We should be more inclusive and collaborative, working together for the best outcome for the people of North Norfolk, listening to each other and treating everyone with respect, even when views differ. There is a significant minority within the Conservative group who share this view and who have tried to change the culture of the group from within.”

Councillor Nick Coppack, who represents the Gaunt ward, expressed his support for Mr Rest, saying: “I fully support John’s decision and wish him luck as an Independent.

“We are after all elected to serve our community and that should be our priority going forward.”

Another Conservative party defector, Nigel Pearce, commented: “This is a private matter, on which Mr Rest will have made his own judgement.”

In a statement earlier this week, Mr Rest said: “As you may recall, I resigned from the Cabinet at the end of last year, on a point of principle and I planned to concentrate my efforts on supporting local issues and representing my constituents.

“However, whilst remaining in sympathy with the general ethos of the Conservative Party, I find I can no longer support the Leader of NNDC and his administration.”

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