Great Yarmouth Tories ‘torn apart’ claim after party drops long standing member
09:35 29 August 2014
(C) Archant Norfolk 2013
A leading Tory claims the Great Yarmouth party is being “torn apart” after one if its longest standing members was dropped.
‘I might stand again’
Long-serving councillor Jim Shrimplin has not ruled out standing for election next year despite being dropped by
The well-known Tory member said there were “many options” available to him after he was not re-selected by the town’s Conservation Association.
Cllr Shrimplin was among a list of candidates keen to represent the party next May, but association chiefs said he did not make it through to the final round after interview.
But the 80-year-old, who has stood on Great Yarmouth Borough Council for 36 years, hinted the move would not be the end of his political career.
He said: “[I might] stand again as my democratic right, not for the Conservatives of course. One never knows.
“I’m not ruling my name out from anything. I live here so I’m fairly well known and I have always probably had a certain personal vote, which might not go to the new candidate.”
Cllr Shrimplin also served the Tory party for 16 years at Norfolk County Council and sits on Ormesby and Scratby Parish Council.
He will continue to serve Ormesby ward until the elections next year.
Following the shock announcement that Jim Shrimplin, a borough councillor for more than 30 years, had not been re-selected to stand at next year’s elections, some members said it had led them to question their future with the party.
The decision to axe Mr Shrimplin, who represents the Ormesby ward, was made by the town’s Conservative Association.
His departure comes with the news that five other Tory members will not be standing for their seats next May when 13 wards will be up for grabs – eight of which are currently held by the Conservatives.
Charles Reynolds, who sits with Mr Shrimplin in the Ormesby ward, said: “I’m absolutely shaken by this decision. It’s torn our group apart.
“The majority of our group support Jim and want him to be there. I’m now thinking about my position over the next few months because of what has been done.”
Sue Hacon, member for Bradwell South and Hopton, is among the five stepping down.
She said she was leaving to spend more time with her family, but she said Mr Shrimplin’s rejection had left her “disillusioned” with the Conservatives.
“Regardless of my prior decision [to stand down] I would have reconsidered my decision following that action,” she added.
But Jennifer Beesley, chairman of Great Yarmouth’s Conservative Association, has strongly rebuffed claims there was a rift among the Tories, and said the party was “united”.
“I’m getting more disgusted by the day with what I’m reading and what I’m hearing. There’s no dissent in the party whatsoever,” she added. “People that are not up for election are stirring things up for no good reason.”
The party is now focusing on supporting MP Brandon Lewis and local candidates next year, she said and thought a line needed to be drawn under the decision not to re-select Mr Shrimplin.
“A proper process has been carried out. The point is the executive made the decision, not me. We only did our job that we were charged to do,” she added.
“This muddy quagmire can go on forever, as far as I’m concerned it’s over with. We get on doing our job and working as a team.
“This team is a great team; people want to work, they want to help Brandon to get him elected. I have had two people this
week join the party wanting to be councillors. If we’re so bad why do people want to become Conservatives?”