12:00PM, Thursday 29 June 2017
Cllr David Coppinger
Claims the Royal Borough’s ruling Conservative group is ‘fractured’ are ‘blatantly untrue’, according to a senior member of the council’s leadership.
Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray), deputy chairman of the cabinet, has hit back at the claims made by Cllr Geoff Hill (Con, Oldfield), chairman of the Maidenhead Conservative Association (MCA), about the party’s internal politics.
In last week’s Advertiser, Cllr Hill said he was worried about a perception that ‘the leadership’s views are not in line with residents’ thinking’.
But Cllr Coppinger, who is also cabinet member for adult services and health, said he thought Cllr Hill was abusing his position as chairman to make such statements.
He added: “A number of councillors are coming under tremendous pressure from residents over the Borough Local Plan.
“But while they have a right as councillors and should be working with residents to put their points over, criticisms of the Conservative group are not acceptable by somebody who holds office as chairman of MCA.
“And I am determined to stop this conflation of two roles which is bringing us into disrepute, when things are being said which are, in my opinion, blatantly untrue.”
He has called on Cllr Hill to step down as MCA chairman, which he thinks is incompatible with his role as a councillor.
In the meantime, Cllr Coppinger has tendered his resignation as MCA treasurer as he feels he can no longer work with Cllr Hill. He added he saw no conflict between being treasurer and a councillor, as treasurer is a purely financial role, which does not include ‘making statements on behalf of MCA’.
However, Cllr Hill claims that after consultation with Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) he was confident he had not breached any rules and there was no conflict of interest because association chairman and councillor are ‘completely separate’ positions.
“What is happening is they’re searching for reasons to unseat me as chairman and I’m sick of it,” he said.
“They’re trying to draw the fire away from Simon Dudley [the leader of the council] and themselves.”
Cllr Coppinger also claimed Cllr Hill was ‘upset’ after being sacked from his position as cabinet member for customer and business services and IT in May by Cllr Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside).
Following this, Cllr Hill ‘summarily dismissed’ Cllr Dudley from a political advisor’s role with MCA.
Cllr Coppinger’s intervention came after a full council meeting on Tuesday had been split over whether to help fund the expansion of Lowbrook Academy, in the Fairway, Maidenhead.
The proposal was defeated by a single vote, but he denied this was evidence of divisions.
He said: “This is democracy, this is not people acting in their council role, this is people acting with the borough in mind and making a decision.
“The opposition was split in their view and we were split in our view, but we were able to make our own decision on the night.”
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