Conservative party infighting sees councilor ousted from East Ayrshire group

Infighting at East Ayrshire’s Conservative group has seen one of their councilors ousted from the party.

Councillor Ian Grant was expelled from the local Tory group last week as local politicians geared up for council elections in May.

The Kilmarnock North ward councillor said the dismissal came as a bolt from the blue and he’s been left miffed at the decision that leaves five tories at the local authority.

Mr Grant, who is now an independent councilor and is aiming to retain his position on the council in a few months, has accused Conservative group leader Tom Cook and fellow tory councilor Jon Herd of initiating the move against him.

In a response to claims made by Mr Grant, Councillor Cook and Councillor Herd said a meeting was arranged with Mr Grant “to address a number of concerns”.

Cllr Grant said: “I’m not going to speculate as to the motives of the very small number of people who were involved in this. There’s only six people in the group, for which I am one.

“There’s two people who could’ve instigated this and that’s Tom Cook and Jon Herd and I’m not going to speculate as to what the reasons might be for doing this.

“I can only say that it came as something as a surprise to me and has come as a surprise to other people within the party and the council officials.”

The decision has left councilor Grant, who was elected in 2017, baffled.

The tory group met for a scheduled meeting at the end of January and was followed by an executive meeting a few days later. Councilor Grant says no concerns or issues about him were raised at these summits.

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Councilor Grant was then invited to an ‘extra’ group meeting on Friday, February 4 but was unable to attend due to a prior engagement and was informed that the whip had been withdrawn via email.

Mr Grant claims the manoeuvre against him is even more strange as it came after Tory party HQ in Edinburgh approved his candidacy to stand in May’s council elections.

“I don’t think I’ve done anything or been involved in anything that might have brought this on,” Cllr Grant added.

“I don’t feel i’ve got anything to reproach myself about.

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“I’m very happy to stand as an independent — I didn’t choose it or ask for it but this is the card that fate has played.

“I take the job seriously and I take it seriously that people in this area need representation especially now. So I want to make sure that they continue to be represented by someone who lives in the area and is part of the community.”

A statement issued on behalf of councillor Tom Cook and councillor Jon Herd reads: “This matter was dealt with internally by the Conservative group in line with our constitution.

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“The meeting was held to address a number of concerns which Councilor Grant was given sufficient notice of.

“Councillor Grant was then notified in writing as to the outcome of the meeting. He immediately responded to inform us he was resigning from the Conservative group with immediate effect and would be continuing as an independent councilor until the election in May.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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