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'Fractured': Maidenhead Conservative Association chairman raises concerns about state of party in Royal Borough

'Fractured' is how the chairman of the Maidenhead Conservative Association has described the current state of the party in the Royal Borough after two high profile resignations within a week.

Cllr Geoff Hill (Con, Oldfield) said it was a ‘difficult time’ for the Conservative Group following resignations which saw Cllr Claire Stretton (Boyn Hill) become an ‘Independent Conservative’ and Cllr Charles Hollingsworth (Pinkneys Green) become an Independent.

Both councillors cited the leadership of Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) and discontent over the Borough Local Plan as reasons for their decision.

Cllr Hill said: “It is my job to get Conservative councillors elected and project the Conservative message.

“I’m more than concerned. I’m very worried that, at the moment, the leadership’s views are not in line with residents’ thinking. It’s not a good time for the Conservative Group.”

He said the group was ‘fractured’ and there was a ‘lot of discontent’ from the public.

This week the Advertiser was told from a number of different sources, that Cllr Dudley was trying to have Cllr Hill removed from his position as chairman of the association.

When asked, Cllr Hill said: “It is just a rumour. I have received nothing formal. I don’t know what’s going on.

“It seems that Simon Dudley is way beyond his remit.”

He said the only way he could be removed from his position was if he resigned, if the Conservative HQ dismissed him, or if he died – and he was not planning to do either.

Last week the Fisheries Residents Association said it would be actively campaigning against all Conservative councillors in the next local elections in 2019 if the Borough Local Plan was passed on Monday.

On Tuesday the Advertiser was copied in on an email from the pianist and composer Laurie Holloway MBE, who lives in Bray and who was asking how the public could get Cllr Dudley removed from his position.

When contacted yesterday (Wednesday) about Cllr Hill’s position, Cllr Dudley said: “That would be a matter for the Conservative Association.”

When asked about Cllr Stretton’s resignation and her new position as an ‘Independent Conservative’ he said: “There is no such thing. Only central office can agree to that.”

In response to the Fisheries’ threat to actively campaign against the Conservatives at the next local elections, Cllr Dudley said on Friday: “They opposed Oldfield Primary School as well. We should all work together to improve our communities and help provide desperately needed housing.

“I’m in politics to also help people who cannot rely on the bank of mum and dad. That’s a big bank in the Fisheries.”

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