Dereham mayor snubbed by Tories
A Norfolk mayor will be 'going it alone' in the forthcoming local elections after being snubbed by the Conservative Party.
Robert Hambidge has been a Tory town councillor in Dereham for four years and the civic leader since last May.
But he will be standing in the town council elections for no party after not being approved by the Mid Norfolk Conservative Association as a district councillor.
Mr Hambidge was interviewed by a panel as a prospective district councillor but got a letter saying he had not been selected.
He said he had not been given a reason for his de-selection but suspects it is because he is seen as a 'loose cannon.'
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Mr Hambidge has decided against standing as a district councillor but is determined to continue on the town council.
He said he also plans to remain in the Conservative Party and as chairman of the Dereham branch of the association.
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Mr Hambidge said: 'As long as the people of the branch continue to back me, I will carry on as chairman.
'They (the Mid Norfolk Association) have not really told me why I was not selected but I know they view me as a maverick and I have a habit that if I do not agree with something I will argue with it.'
He added: 'I cannot walk away from the people of Dereham and that is why I am not standing under a party name. People I have told have been quite appalled.'
Mr Hambidge – a farmer – said he was proud of his achievements as a councillor and in his year as mayor.
Mr Hambidge's partner Kate Millbank is a Breckland and Dereham town councillor and is standing for the Conservatives but he said it was not creating friction between them.
'There is no problem for me and Kate. When we walk in the door the last thing we talk about is politics.'
The EDP contacted John Baskerville, chairman of the Mid Norfolk Conservative Association, who did not wish to comment.