Conservative Association chairman and Onnalee Cubitt resign over party snub (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Conservative Association chairman and Onnalee Cubitt resign over party snub
THE chairman of the Basing and Lychpit branch of the Basingstoke Conservative Association has resigned after a popular borough councillor was prevented from standing for the party in next month’s borough elections.
Councillor Onnalee Cubitt, borough ward member for Basing, applied four weeks ago to represent the Conservative party in the borough elections, which will be held on May 22.
Cllr Cubitt originally quit the borough Conservative group in May 2012, becoming an Independent, after she spent months on the fringes for her outspoken comments on the Manydown saga.
She criticised the ruling Tory administration for refusing to include the key Basingstoke site in the borough’s Local Plan, which instead proposed thousands of new homes in her Basing ward.
But Cllr Cubitt’s application to be put on the party’s approved candidates list for the 2014 election in Old Basing has been rejected by the Basingstoke Conservative Association.
This means that Cllr Cubitt, who won her seat in 2010 with a majority of 3,200 votes, is unable to be selected by her local branch.
The decision to omit the popular councillor from the approved list means former borough councillor for Chineham, John Downes, will now represent the party at the Basing seat election in May.
Mr Downes was imposed as the candidate by the Hampshire Conservative Federation’s executive committee on April 1, after members at the Basing and Lychpit branch voted to reject his application. The Hampshire Conservative Federation combines the Basingstoke Conservative Association and the East Hampshire Conservative Association.
Now, Basing and Lychpit branch chairman, Tony Fendall has resigned over the saga, pledging his support for Cllr Cubitt, who has now quit the Conservative Party, and will stand for election as an Independent.
Cllr Cubitt told The Gazette: “I have been a Conservative all my life, and I am a local girl and have got huge support.
“Now I am in this ridiculous position where residents want me but I am not allowed to stand as a Conservative because the executive committee ensured I couldn’t stand because they didn’t approve me.
“I have decided to stand as an independent councillor, and I have had overwhelming support over the weekend. I am up for election in May and my residents are happy with what I have done.”
She added: “I want to remain the councillor for the ward of Basing because I have got a lot of work to do in regards to strategic planning.
“The threat is not going away – Taylor Wimpey wants to build on Hodds Farm – and I believe with my knowledge, I can do what is needed to represent the interests of Basing and Basingstoke because as a councillor we are responsible for the whole borough as well.”
Mr Fendall said: “I wanted the best councillor for the ward, and as she (Cllr Cubitt) was not an option to vote for, that left me with no option. I will now put all my efforts into supporting Onnalee Cubitt.”
A spokesman for the Hampshire Conservative Federation said: “Although Cllr Cubitt applied to be re-selected as a Conservative candidate, she was unable to give sufficient reassurance that she would not resign again in similar circumstances.
“Thus, it was not possible to add her name to the list of approved candidates for 2014, although it was made clear to her that this might not be the case in the future.
“Only approved candidates can be authorised to stand as Conservative candidates. The local party has selected John Downes, a resident of Lychpit with previous experience as a councillor, to stand for the Basing ward this May.”
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