Why I decided to walk away from Alliance’

Why I decided to walk away from Alliance'
Councillor Christian Atwood

“I thought long and hard about leaving the Alliance, there were many factors that influenced my decision, some known and some private.”

He described the Alliance party as having ‘lost their way’ after Calverley Square with no ‘forward plan and no policies’ in place.

The party was formed in 2016 but was registered as a political party in 2018, and secured their first Councillor, Nick Pope, who became leader. Cllr Pope was unable to vote on Calverley Square, which was knowledge he kept from both the voters and members of the party.

“I had no knowledge that Nick Pope couldn’t vote on Calverley Square. I joined the party because I always felt Calverley Square was in the wrong place,” Cllr Atwood said.

He described how after their successful bid to stop Calverley Square, he expected the Alliance to be buoyant and start developing new policy ideas, but the leadership appeared to have ‘no interest’.

“After the vote, they did nothing. They did not even publicise it. They just stayed quiet – the other opposition parties made a lot of noise but the Alliance was quiet.

 “Then Nick announced he was going to be on holiday for the six weeks before the elections so it was decided he should step down as leader.”

Cllr Atwood explained how this was when the split in the party became apparent, but denies claims by the Alliance that chairman Robert Chris had appointed the new leader unilaterally.

“Two people wanted to be leader, David Hayward [Pembury councillor] and Becki Bruneau. There was a vote, I know there was, because I voted for Becki, but the ballot was split with three for Becki and three for David, who decided to pull out.”

Once the new leader was installed, Cllr Atwood says the party’s lack of interest in producing any policies became obvious.

“Becki tried to come up with new policies but nobody was behind her.”

He continued: “We even had one Councillor say that they will not let anybody tell them what to do.

“When I tried to bring a motion to Full Council about the sale of fireworks I thought they would be behind it, but I emailed the group about it and nobody answered. There was just no cohesion.”

He added that he is defecting to the Conservative group on TWBC because he believes that without a national party behind them, members of groups like the Alliance have nothing in common.

 “I initially liked the idea of an independent local group. But I realised they are just a group of people not a political group. I feel that national politics do play a part in local politics.

“Whilst canvassing for my seat last year, I never made any secret of the fact that on a national level my politics were and always have been Conservative.”

His decision to defect has not gone down well with some Alliance supporters, some of whom have turned to social media and branded him a ‘traitor’ and ‘rat’.

Others insist he should call a by-election in the ward, calls which Cllr Atwood says he will resist.

“I knew I would receive a backlash and indeed I have,” he said, adding: “My priority is to help the residents and I feel I can best do that with the Conservatives.

“The local Conservatives are changing their attitudes and are becoming more open and willing to work with the local community.”

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