Ex-mayor quits Tories for UKIP
Published: 28 Sep 2013 12:302 comments
Cllr Shelagh Pile – who was first elected to Bracknell Forest Council in 1991 – spoke at her new party’s national conference on Saturday.
She said: “I was pleased with them and they were pleased with me. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time and it is not an easy decision but [the Conservative Party] is not the party I joined in 1991.
“I find it very sad and I had to make a decision or to just keep pushing along.”
Cllr Pile – who represents Harmans Water – had been acting as an independent councillor since 2011, when she was suspended from the Bracknell Forest Conservative group for voting against it over its housing strategy. She was concerned by plans for large-scale housing developments in some parts of the borough.
Cllr Pile remained a member of the national Conservative Party and had still been a Tory town councillor but has now quit for UKIP.
She said she was disillusioned with the ruling party at both national and local level, adding: “When I started I was proud to be a Conservative. My values have not changed from then – I joined and aimed to serve the people.
“I believe UKIP will give the EU vote which was promised. How can we trust any party which can make such a promise and not keep it?
“It’s getting to election time; could I stand on the doorstep and support something I don’t believe in. They promised it at the last election and haven’t said why it didn’t happen.”
Cllr Pile – a former two-time town mayor and one-time borough mayor – said she hopes residents in her ward will stick with her. She has not made a firm decision about whether she will stand in the next council elections in 2015.
Cllr Pile said: “I know the area and I know what’s definitely needed and I hope they [residents] will understand. I know they voted Conservative but I have to put what I believe in. Everybody has the right to a democracy.”
Cllr Paul Bettison, leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said he was not concerned about Cllr Pile’s defection, or a rise in UKIP’s popularity. He said: “She hasn’t been in the Conservatives for two years and she’s entitled to join [UKIP].”
Cllr Bettison dismissed Cllr Pile’s claims the Conservative Party was not what it used to be. He said: “I don’t think anything is what it was 20 years ago. Things change, things move on and things have to adapt – that’s just life.
“As a party adapts they win friends and lose them. I hope she will continue to serve her residents as she had done as a Conservative and an independent until 2015.”