The new Andover Alliance political party is suffering more than a difference of opinion, just one week after taking control of Andover town council.
Two of their newly elected councillors are refusing to communicate with the rest of the party; they failed to attend a formal party meeting on Sunday,
The party leader and deputy leader sat apart from each other and refused to speak at today’s full borough council meeting in Romsey.
The newly created party which promised ‘local people before national politics’ has 15 of the 16 town council seats and 7 seats at Test Valley Borough Council.
Insiders have told local radio station 95.9FM Andover Radio that deputy party leader David Coole is “willingly trying to disrupt the party” after falling out with party leader and Chair of Andover town council, Richard Rowles.
Cllr Coole’s attempt to create a ‘Notified Group’ within the borough council means that elected decision makers in Andover will have less say on planning issues within the town.
It appears that Cllr Coole, along with also newly elected councillor Chris Ecclestone are having a power struggle with the rest of their party.
According to observers, neither are talking to each other.
Andover Alliance voter David told Love Andover, “I’ve been reading stuff online and now it’s just as if David Cooles (SIC) ain’t part of the same party I voted for. Is he going off on his own? That aint (SIC) what I voted for”.
Party leader, Richard Rowles told Love Andover, “Two renegade Andover Alliance councillors David Coole and Chris Ellcestone have chosen not to join an official group of five within TVBC. This affects planning matters.”
The actions by Councillors Coole and Ecclestone mean that elected members from Romsey wards will will make decisions over planning issues in Andover. It is understood that LibDem councillors from the south of the borough will now make decisions in Andover.
Cllr Rowles adds, “These two councillors have failed to explain why their decision benefit the people of Andover. As a party we want Andover to have as much say as possible over planning in our town.”
The rift between Cllrs Coole and Ecclestone, and the rest of their party was apparent at a full borough council meeting earlier today in Romsey. An anonymous (although factually incorrect) post on Spotted in Andover earlier said:
“At the Mayor Making today to find out voting for the Andover Alliance was a load of rubbish! They announced that only 2 are officially Andover Alliance and the rest are just independents they lied to get votes and have shown no respect 2 of them didn’t even show up or send apologies I stupidly trusted them as I wanted something new for the town which I massively regret.”
At the Mayor-making event in Romsey, leader of Test Valley Borough Councillor Phil North addressed the new worshipful Mayor, saying, “A week ago last Thursday was a tough night. It was particularly tough for my party – we lost some great councillors who have served Test Valley for many years – and I pay tribute to them for all their hard work, service and dedication.
“The other side of that coin is that we gained some incredibly talented people – right across the political spectrum – and I’d like to welcome every single one of our new members to the Council.
“It takes an enormous amount of bravery to stick your head above the parapet and stand for election – a decision which inevitably attracts criticism – but despite that, I am sure you’ll find your time on Test Valley extremely rewarding.“
Cllr Coole agrees, he told Love Andover, “We have made no secret of the fact that many of our Councillors lack the political understanding that more seasoned Councillors have.
“Yes, some procedural hiccups have been made and these are to be expected from a new party and from people completely new to politics.”
He added that he sees the lack of political knowledge by elected councillors as “refreshing and an opportunity” adding, “It enables the Andover Alliance to see things differently and to seek out opportunities, where the more seasoned Councillors only see brick walls.”