Ex-Alliance leader quits party to form new independent group

STATE OF INDEPENDENCE: David Hayward and (right) his new party logo

TENSIONS within Town Hall have led to a split in the Alliance party, as the previous leader stepped down last week and formed a new political grouping.

Former Alliance leader, David Hayward resigned from the party last Wednesday (August 16), admitting that the party’s arrangement with the Borough Partnership was a “mistake”.

In a public statement, Mr Hayward, the councillor for Pembury ward, said he felt “shackled and subservient to the Lib Dems” under the current arrangement with the Alliance and therefore could not continue his association with the group.

“This situation has unintentionally led to a misalignment with my principles and the core values on which I based my campaign,” he said.

“It is essential for me to remain true to my beliefs and maintain integrity in my actions as an elected representative.”

In a series of exclusive interviews with the Times, Cllr Hayward explained how he believes the Alliance party is not represented enough inside the Borough Partnership and how he felt they had been “swallowed up” by the Lib Dems.

“I feel the agreement with the Borough Partnership was a mistake [we made] the year before,” he said.

“The arrangement the previous year was, in hindsight, a poor one, and I take full responsibility for that.

“I negotiated the Borough Partnership, which had never been done before, but I should’ve realised we would be swallowed up by them.

“We only chair one committee on the whole Council and our group leader [Cllr Matthew Sankey] isn’t even on the cabinet, which is bizarre.

“The group leader of a represented party should be there to make decisions.

“Part of the Borough Partnership agreement outlines the notion of collective responsibility and a requirement to explain yourself if you disagree.

“I regard this as proto whipping, completely against my principles as an independent and I was not elected to be a gagged and handcuffed passenger on a Lib Dem bus.

“I was elected as an independent, free from Westminster politics.”

Despite voicing his concerns, Cllr Hayward was “gobsmacked” that the Alliance has rejoined the Borough Partnership after the most recent election in May, the same day he found out he had been ousted as leader.

He told the Times: “I don’t know [why the Alliance rejoined]. Maybe it’s ‘Nick Clegg syndrome’. Either way, I had not been invited to the discussions since the election in May.

“If I was still the group leader for the Alliance at the election, I would not have re-joined the Borough Partnership. There is no good reason, for residents or the Borough, for us being inside the group.

“Drawing us into an even worse deal than the year before was clearly motivated by what we had seen the previous year, a requirement to claim all good outcomes as ‘Lib Dem’ achievements.

“Clearly now motivated by national requirements to get their parliamentary candidate’s public image in a position to claim any successful outcomes, residents, as usual, are secondary to party.”

Responding to the claims, a Tunbridge Wells Lib Dem spokesperson said: “The resignation of David Hayward is an internal party matter for the Tunbridge Wells Alliance. We wish David well in his future endeavours.”

When asked of his relationships with his former party, Cllr Hayward said: “I want to express my sincere gratitude to The Alliance for the support and opportunities it has provided during my time as a member.

“I have learned some very valuable lessons and made cherished memories during this journey.

“After the election I was outed as leader of the Alliance, which is when I disengaged from the whole thing.

“I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, Nick [Cllr Pope, Alliance party chairman] did ask me to reconsider but I think he realised I wasn’t going to change my mind.

“I’m not sure what their [the Alliance] reaction has been, but we are still close. I have only lost the party, not my friends.”

The Alliance party have been approached for comment.

Stepping away from the Alliance, Cllr Hayward says he is positive about the future with the introduction of his new party, ‘Independents for Tunbridge Wells’.

He explained his party will be an “umbrella organisation for other local independents” and that he “won’t be alone”.

The party is expected to have an emphasis on “infrastructure before planning, not building on the greenbelt and changes to the local plan which he believes is ‘not fit for purpose’”.

“National politics at a local level doesn’t work. The party will be a mechanism for proper representation in the council.”

On the party logo’s resemblance to the Amelia’s logo, Cllr Hayward said: “It shows all the political parties coming together but I think it looks more like the Pink Floyd album [Dark Side of the Moon], but any likeness is purely accidental.”

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