Expulsion threat to councillors over leaks

James Harrison

Threats of expulsion from the Royal Borough’s Conservative Party group have been made against councillors caught leaking details of internal business.

The promise to deal harshly with dissent among the ranks was made by the leader of the council, Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside), following revelations about the ‘sacking’ of Cllr Philip Love from the cabinet last month.

In an email circulated among Conservative councillors and seen by the Advertiser, Cllr Love set out the reasons for his removal.

According to this, the council veteran had been called by Cllr Dudley on Thursday, July 7, several weeks after a chance meeting with Brian McGinley, president of Maidenhead Golf Club (MGC).

At the time, negotiations were ongoing between MGC and the council over the release of the Shoppenhangers Road site for development.

Following this, Cllr Dudley phoned Cllr Love, claiming that this conversation could have ‘hindered the deal’ and removed him from his position as deputy member with responsibility for Maidenhead and the town's regeneration, as well as the leader’s representative on the Partnership for the Regeneration of Maidenhead (PRoM).

However, according to Cllr Love’s account, four days after his sacking, contracts were signed between MGC and the Royal Borough.

He was replaced by Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and Walthams), but no explanation was given for the switch at the time.

Cllr Love simply said it had not been ‘his decision’, while Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray), the cabinet’s deputy chairman, said it had been Cllr Dudley’s choice.

When the email was put to him, Cllr Love confirmed he had sent a message to his fellow councillors to set out his version of events, but declined to comment further.

Cllr Dudley said he would always try to put ‘the right people in the right roles’, added: “This is where we move to a situation where we’re dealing with over £1bn of investment in Maidenhead.

“Philip has done a great job, but this is a very financial and legal process so we need to tread very carefully.”

But he refused to comment on the contents of the email, saying he ‘wouldn’t comment on any matter that members of the [Conservative] group chose to leak to the press’.

He also warned that any councillor caught doing so would face expulsion from the group.

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