Somerset

Portishead Conservative councillor labels party untrustworthy

The Conservative Party should not be trusted by voters, according to a Tory councillor in North Somerset.

In a e-mail sent by Councillor Don Cameron, of Portishead Town Council, the Conservative Party has been accused of "corrupt" practice.

It follows a row over the purchase of a minibus and an office rental in Nailsea which led to disciplinary action.

The Conservative Party said it was aware of the situation and was working to find a resolution to the problem.

'Internal spats'

Mr Cameron has accused Conservative Central Office of keeping key details secret, imposing control unnecessarily on North Somerset and of contriving the offences.

"There is something rotten at the centre of the Conservative Party" he wrote, and "we can never be deserving of the electorate's confidence while this persists".

Mr Cameron email was sent to every member of the North Somerset Conservative Association (NSCA) - and seen by the BBC - and referred to the way he believes Conservative Central Office has handled disciplinary action taken against several local members.

He believes the row has cost the association up to £20,000 in legal fees, some two thirds of its total reserves.

A Tory Party spokesman said it had seen the email but did not want to comment on internal party "spats".

Extraordinary meeting

The problems emerged last year, when the running of the NSCA was taken over by Conservative Central Office following a row over the purchase of a minibus for Liam Fox MP's election campaign.

Issues were also raised over the rental of an office, at association headquarters on Nailsea High Street.

The minibus had been bought in 2010 for £5,000 but later developed faults and was sold at a loss of £3,500.

As a result the then chairman and president Chris Allcock and Councillor Carl Pester were both barred from holding association office for three years, along with three trustees being stripped of party membership.

An extraordinary meeting of the association is due to be called next month where the future of the remaining trustees will be decided.

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