East Devon council leader resigns party days before election
By Hannah Corfield
17th Sep 2021 | Local News
The leader of East Devon District Council has resigned from the Conservative Party less than a week before the local council elections.
Councillor Ian Thomas says his resignation is 'in no way related to the excellent case being presented by East Devon District Council Conservatives'.
If re-elected he will remain as council leader until the council's Annual Meeting on May 22. If he is not re-elected he will stand down on May 3.
On May 2 voters across East Devon will go to the polls to elect councillors on a county, district and town council level.
"With a heavy heart, I confirm my resignation from the Conservative Party on April 17, 2019," said council leader Ian Thomas.
"My decision was in no way related to the excellent case being presented by East Devon District Council Conservatives in the pre-election period. Theirs is an outstanding presentation based on the performance delivered by a capable and experienced Conservative led team.
"I have resigned the leadership of the East Devon District Council Conservative Group but, remain Leader of the Council until the Annual Meeting on May 22, if re-elected; otherwise I will step down on May 3.
"I am arranging that all 2,192 electors in my home Trinity Ward receive a personal letter, hand delivered by my team and me. This confirms that should I be honoured by re-election, I will sit as an independent councillor not aligned to any political party or group, with this simple aim;
"To ensure that East Devon District Council delivers the services Axmouth, Combpyne-Rousdon and Uplyme residents want and value, in a caring, open and transparent environment."
Honiton Nub News contacted East Devon District Council for a statement on the shock resignation.
Mark Williams, East Devon District Council's chief executive, said: "This is a personal decision taken by councillor Thomas. From a returning officer perspective the election for the Trinity ward will continue.
"Cllr Thomas has been validly nominated to stand in the Trinity Ward and the ballot papers will show that he is standing as a Conservative candidate as this was the basis on which he was nominated. The change in circumstances does not countermand the election process and it will go ahead on May 2.
"From a chief executive perspective, cllr Thomas is the Leader of the Council and remains as such until the circumstances set out in Article 6.03 of the Council's Constitution occur. These are that either cllr Thomas resigns as leader; is suspended from being a councillor; is no longer a councillor; is removed by resolution of the council; or another leader is elected at the Annual Council Meeting on the May 22."