Tories in dispute over claims of 'disloyalty'

PUBLISHED: 10:25 07 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:25 07 August 2014

Cllr Keith Mackman

Cllr Keith Mackman

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Uttlesford's Conservatives are at each others throats once again - this time over tit-for-tat accusations of disloyalty between a Dunmow councillor and the group's leader.

Councillor Keith Mackman’s future as a Tory is in jeopardy after the leader of the district council, Cllr Howard Rolfe, threatened to suspend him for six months because of his outspoken criticism of recent decisions by the Conservatives.

However, Cllr Mackman disputed the suggestion he had been disloyal, and instead went on the offensive against Cllr Rolfe, the group’s newly-appointed leader.

“I will not take lectures on loyalty from a man who tried to deselect the local MP,” he told the Reporter, referring to a plot earlier this year to overthrow Saffron Walden’s long-serving MP Sir Alan Haselhurst. Cllr Rolfe was reported to have spearheaded the attempt.

“Cllr Rolfe had the opportunity to take over this council with a new broom and put things right but he has not done that,” Cllr Mackman added.

The Dunmow South representative has been accused of being disloyal to the party following a string of challenges he has made to various decisions by the council.

They include voting against the emerging Local Plan and a plea for the council to overturn a decision not to fight the controversial ‘Hellsenham’ 800-home scheme on appeal.

The application, by The Fairfield Partnership, was rejected twice by the council’s planning committee but the developer has since appealed to the Planning Inspectorate for this to be overruled.

Uttlesford District Council agreed at a meeting last month not to fight the appeal.

Cllr Mackman, who was told of his potential suspension at a meeting with Cllr Rolfe and former leader Jim Ketteridge last week, said: “The dear leader and his replacement will recommend to the Conservative group that I be suspended for six months, presumably on the grounds that loyalty to residents cannot be seen to outweigh pathetic political considerations.

“I was not elected to support them. I was elected to represent members.”

When approached by the Reporter, Cllr Rolfe declined to comment.

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