District councillor quits Labour Party but stays in role as an Independent

Cllr Gregory at a SONIK demonstration

A district councillor has quit the Labour Party in a row about national policies and leadership and local splits.

Candy Gregory, who took one of the seats for Salmestone Ward at the 2019 local elections, will now represent residents as an Independent.

Cllr Gregory resigned from the party on August 12 following a suspension for sharing social media tweets related to a leaked Labour report about internal hostilities.

The report, which has claims of undermining election efforts, racism and misogyny, is now subject to an inquiry ordered by party leader Keir Starmer to examine both the contents and how it was authored and leaked.

Cllr Gregory said: “I was not expelled from the Labour Party. I was suspended for ‘liking’ 6 facebook and twitter posts and left by return of email. I have been unhappy with the leadership ever since I read all 860 pages of the leaked report. I feel it is the party machine working against the principles of the party.

“Before I was elected I was working for the party, unpaid as a volunteer, leafleting and canvassing. I knew there were problems with the region and NEC (National Executive Committee) but didn’t know why. Locally I felt there was orchestration of abuse and stifling free speech.”

The founder member of Save Our NHS in Kent and an animal rights campaigner is staying in her role as an Independent  with the support of the Salmestone Ward Residents Association.

She said: “The Salmestone Residents Association wants me to continue so I will.”

It is understood there have been other suspensions of Thanet Labour Party members, although not of other councillors.

Council leader Rick Everitt, also Thanet Labour Party leader, said: “I am sorry that Candy has decided to leave the party, but I’m not aware that the background has anything to do with the council.”

The district, which has 56 councillor seats, is now made up of 25 Conservative; 18 Labour; 7 Thanet Independents; 3 Green, 2 Independents and one vacant seat.

Despite having the larger number of councillors the authority is not Conservative-led following a vote of no confidence in Conservative leader Bob Bayford.

The motion was put by Thanet Independent Group leader Stuart Piper last October asking for the vote of no confidence and, an added amendment, for  the removal of Cllr Bayford from office.

A vote saw 29 in favour of removing Bob Bayford from leadership, 22 against and one abstention.

Nominations were then immediately made for a new leader, which was  won by Labour’s Rick Everitt, meaning not only was Bob Bayford ousted but the Conservatives lost control of the council.