Joanne Grange

Criticism of a councillor for switching his political allegiances has been questioned by the last remaining independent representative on Lichfield District Council.

Cllr Jeyan Anketell’s move to the Labour ranks comes less than a year after being elected as an independent in the Stowe ward.

The move has led to calls for a by-election from some of those who stood against him in the ballot.

But Cllr Joanne Grange said residents would be more interested in how well Cllr Anketell serves them rather than the party he is affiliated to.

Cllr Jeyan Anketell

“I suspect Cllr Anketell and I were both elected on the back of protest votes by an electorate who were heartily fed up with politics last May, rather than a specific desire to have independent councillors.

“Does Cllr Anketell’s move to the Labour group make any difference to the overall make up of the council? No, the Tory majority remains the same.

“Does Cllr Anketell’s move stop people accessing a councillor if they need one? No, and there are two Tory councillors available in Stowe if people don’t want to talk to a Labour councillor, and a non-Tory for those who’d prefer.

“Will some people be disappointed to lose an independent councillor? Possibly, but outside the Frog Lane bubble I suspect there’s a whole swathe of the ward who won’t really care one way or the other.

“Is it all a bit of fuss about something that has little impact? I think so, whilst accepting others have different views.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

“The impact of this will be negligible”

Cllr Grange had previously been a Conservative representative before resigning in a row over planning policies with the former leadership of the local authority.

The decision of Cllr Anketell came in the wake of the General Election campaign where he says he felt the Labour party best represented his views.

He also said joining the red ranks would help him best serve Lichfield residents.

Cllr Grange said that he may struggle to balance his own views with those of his new colleagues.

“I’d question whether being a member of a political grouping will deliver the benefits Cllr Anketell is suggesting given Cllr Norman has been clear that being a member of the Labour group will mean voting in line with the group – or at best abstaining – which has the potential to mean voting against what you believe residents would want or expect.

“But given the make-up of the council with the block Tory vote the impact of this will be negligible.

“I’m personally disappointed to lose my fellow independent but have no intention to follow his lead, and will carry on as the last independent at the council.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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  1. The Tories didn’t seem too fussed when they co-opted their own colleague onto the council when a Labour Cllr resigned a couple of years ago. Only calling for by-elections when it suits them?

  2. I suspect we would all be better off if all local council members were independent. They do not have direct contact with central party politics and, in general, local issues should be decided on their merits. To slavishly follow some party line and have to follow some group dictate even when you know it is intrinsically wrong is not what local interests are about. Too much of Lichfields governance operates this way. Rather than giving up independence we should be encouraging it.

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