Former Wisbech mayor and Conservative councillor explains why he will be standing as an independent in May’s local elections

As mayor Nick Meekins had plenty to cheer about., Will the same be true when the votes are cast on M

As mayor Nick Meekins had plenty to cheer about., Will the same be true when the votes are cast on May 2 for elections to local town, parish and district elections in Fenland? Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A former Wisbech mayor and Conservative councillor will be standing as an independent candidate in May’s elections to counter former colleagues he claims are “abusive and aggressive to non-Tory councillors”.

Nick Meekins, mayor from 2010-11, has aligned himself with a group of former Tories who are to challenge for seats on Fenland District Council as independents.

Mr Meekins, who also wants to return to Wisbech Town Council, said those who had already left the Tory Party “confirmed my decision because the reasons they cited for leaving were almost identical to my thoughts”

He said: “I don’t think my opinions of the Tory leadership on Wisbech and Fenland Council should come as a surprise to anyone who reads the local press.

“In my view there are a small group of uber Tories who dominate the party locally, holding as they do key positions and ruling by selecting sycophants as candidates and threatening deselection to any Tory who may not completely toe the line, and being abusive/aggressive to non-Tory councillors.”

He said so far as Wisbech Town Council was concerned he felt it was a “poor decision and against professional advice” to take over Wisbech Castle.

Taking over public toilets and closing some of them was wrong, he said, and support for “hare brained schemes” was another issue. He cited the water clock and children’s playground for the market and the glass ‘watchtower’ in High Street as projects he disagreed with.

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“Surely the town council should be working at realistic schemes that come within their remit that will actually benefit the town,” he said.

He also criticised “a Tory biased questionnaire using the town council staff to publish it. This is probably illegal” and “disrespecting the Union Flag” over the town hall as another reason.

Mr Meekins said he remained angry over the funeral last year of former mayor Patrick O’Dell when the town council did not send a representative.

At the time town clerk Terry Jordan said: “The council received no notification of any funeral arrangements. Notice of the funeral was given simply by way of a public notice in a local newspaper.”

He added: “I am fairly sure that the majority of the current Wisbech town councillors, who did not serve on the council at the same time as him, would not have known Mr O’Dell. Those who had served with him could make their own decision as to whether to attend the funeral.”

Cllr Steve Tierney, who is co-ordinating publicity for the Tory local election campaign, dismissed the rise of the independents – and others -in a blog he published at the weekend.

“Well it’s that time again,” he wrote. “The time when we all go out and ask people to come vote for us.

“The time when the opposition and the Usual Suspects start sneering, lying and slating the Conservatives – while claiming that it is the other way around. “The time when the Wisbech Standard begins its weekly campaign to get somebody, anybody, elected who isn’t a Conservative.

“The time when people nobody has seen in their ward for the last four years turn up and start pretending that they are a better alternative than the people who work all year around.”

He added: “Never mind. The sun is shining. The air is fresh. And the people I am meeting in my ward as I canvass are very pleasant and very positive.

“I have every faith that the people in Wisbech broadly know the truth, no matter what smears the collective opposition try to run with.

“As ever, it will be what it will be. We shall see.

“See you all soon, on the doorstep. Looking forward to it!”