FOUR Conservative councillors have left the political party leaving a minority administration in control of BCP Council.

The move by Poole members Steve Baron, Mohan Iyengar, Daniel Butt and Judes Butt comes after they were not selected as Tory candidates by Poole Conservative Association for next year’s local elections.

The four councillors will now sit as Independents although they have not decided whether this will be as a new group.

A statement released by the councillors included praise from BCP Council’s Conservative leader Cllr Drew Mellor, who said they were “exceptional people with the deepest passion for their local communities”.

Cllr Mellor said they would be a “huge loss” to the Conservative family and he hit out at the Poole Conservative Association “who have effectively forced these local ambassadors to leave the Conservative group on BCP Council”.

In response to questions from the Daily Echo, Cllr Mellor said: “These resignations are due to disagreements with one of the local party associations.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Drew MellorCllr Drew Mellor (Image: BCP Council)

“No indication has been given by any of those councillors that they would support a change in council control and we commit to working closely with them, and any others who wish to work with us to better their communities, in the future.”

Creekmoor ward councillor Judes Butt said the central Conservative party and Poole Conservative Association had “failed” them.

She said the four new Independents were discussing their next steps, which could include sitting as their own political group.

Cllr Judes Butt said they had been “faithful” and “loyal”, but added: “The way in which we were treated was just so unfair and the system for selection is so flawed that one association can do this and destroy the majority of a group.”

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Judes ButtCllr Judes Butt

She said trust was “completely broken” with the party while national issues such as Partygate and the Rwanda migration partnership had been difficult to defend.

“I can assure everyone we won’t cosy up to the Tories,” Cllr Judes Butt added.

“Any policy coming forward, from whatever side, we will consider it and question it.

"If anything is to the detriment of Poole residents we will be speaking up.”

Hamworthy councillor Daniel Butt said: “My residents are first and foremost.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Daniel ButtCllr Daniel Butt

“The decision to leave the Conservatives changes nothing, my residents will and always come first.

“I shall be conducting myself as an Independent, I am affiliated to no party.”

A statement from Cllr Baron, who represents Parkstone, said his interview to become a candidate for local elections was “bizarre”. He claimed the Poole Conservative Association tried to “intimidate” him.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Steve BaronCllr Steve Baron

He told the Daily Echo his position as the council’s lead member for Poole rejuvenation was “up for discussion”, but added that he had been in the role before joining the Conservatives last year.

Rob Haines, chairman of Poole Conservative Association, said: “In relation to the recent announcement by four Conservative councillors that they have left the Conservative group on BCP Council and will now serve as Independents, we thank them for their contribution to date.

“Poole Conservative Association is in the process of selecting its candidates for the 2023 local elections. We do not comment on internal party matters.”

Both Cllr Baron and Cllr Daniel Butt were elected as Poole People candidates in the 2019 local elections. The former left that political group in November 2020, while the latter left in October 2019.

They both joined the Conservatives in September 2021, which gave the Tories their first majority administration since the council’s inception.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Mohan IyengarCllr Mohan Iyengar (Image: BCP Council)

The Daily Echo contacted Cllr Iyengar (Canford Cliffs) for comment. No indication has been given over if he will keep his portfolio holder position for tourism and active health.

Stay up to date with all the latest community news across Dorset with our dedicated Facebook group. Click here to find out more and join.