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IN FULL: Charles Hollingsworth explains reasons for resignation from Conservative Party

Grace Witherden

Reporter:

Grace Witherden

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A comparison has been drawn between the Conservative administration running the Royal Borough and a Shakespearean tragedy by a councillor who has quit the party to become an independent.

Quoting one of the Bard’s most famous plays, Hamlet, Cllr Charles Hollingsworth, who has represented Pinkneys Green since 2011, said of the borough leadership: “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark.”

In an email sent to the Advertiser at the weekend, Cllr Hollingsworth wrote: “I have not only watched with growing horror the actions and pronouncements from our local leadership but I have become increasingly embarrassed to be associated with the cabal, though I am but a humble backbencher.”

He said the trigger for his resignation was an exchange of emails with a Conservative association officer on election day, in which he was warned ‘don’t mess with me’, that left him feeling ‘bullied and threatened’.

In response he resigned from the association, meaning he could no longer serve as a Tory councillor.

Cllr Hollingsworth sent an email to the Conservative Group on Tuesday, explaining his reasons to his fellow councillors.

“To have regularly watched good and true Conservatives of long-standing and faithful service being traduced both at group meetings and beyond, has been a most unpleasant experience and, at the age of 75, I no longer have the stomach for the fight,” he said.

Last month the Advertiser reported Cllr Geoff Hill (Con, Oldfield) had been sacked from his position in the cabinet due to a disagreement about the Borough Local Plan and Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray) was removed from a planning panel in January after raising concerns about the greenbelt percentage in the plan.

Speaking to the Advertiser this week, Cllr Hollingsworth said: “Once I was no longer a member I could speak freely. It was the catalyst that now gives me chance to say the things I want to about the ‘rotten state of Denmark’.

“You do not have to be very bright to realise that there is not good democratic activity.

“The whole culture is dramatically worse. The party is not the issue. It’s about the leadership.”

He also described the Borough Local Plan (BLP) as an ‘absolute shambles’.

“The real thing about the BLP is no proper consultation. We knew that would happen whenever we started; it was all over Christmas,” he said.

“There’s too many holes in it, there’s no greenbelt review.

“It’s almost indefensible. Now they’ve got to force it through. They say, ‘if you don’t do it now we’ll all be screwed and the Government will build in our back gardens’.

“Arguably, so what? If we’ve got a crap plan maybe they should. I’m sick of project fear.”

When the Advertiser contacted council leader Cllr Simon Dudley for comment on Monday, he said: “Charles is a very affable character. I wish him all the best as an Independent.”

Cllr Dudley declined to comment any further on Cllr Hollingsworth’s comments about his leadership.

Cllr Hill, chairman of the Conservative Association, said he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the loss of a hard-working councillor and said the door is always open for him to return.

Read the letter to the Advertiser in full here.

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