A decision to not raise council tax and instead cut services has resulted in the Cornwall Councillor for Mullion resigning from her political group.
Carolyn Rule said her decision to stand down from the Conservative group was a “matter of conscience”, telling the Packet: “I couldn’t live with my own conscience. My dad always taught me to believe that for bad things to happen good people have to keep quiet.
“I love what I’m doing. But I won’t buy votes by doing something I think is wrong.”
It follows a budget meeting on Tuesday last week at which the full council voted in favour of a zero per cent rise in council tax.
Full details of the vote and the build up to it can be found online at thepacket.co.uk “It was horrendous. I still can’t believe what happened,” said Mrs Rule. “There was a lot of soul searching that night and through the night – the next morning I thought I just had to take a stand and resign.”
Mrs Rule is part of the council’s cabinet that recommended a 1.97 per increase in council tax, to prevent further services being cut. She argued that there was “no more fat” to be cut.
The Conservative group, now led by Councillor Fiona Ferguson, pushed for a zero per cent rise again and put forward an amendment to this affect, with the Liberal Democrat group also making an amendment to this aim – which Mrs Rule described as “honestly awful.”
She claims that the Conservatives had agreed to vote against the Lib Dem proposal and in favour of their own, which Mrs Rule was to have abstained on as she felt unable to support zero per cent. In the event, however, some Conservatives had voted in favour of the Lib Dem amendment, pushing this through.
It was this unexpected turn around that prompted Mrs Rule’s resignation.
In a letter to Conservative group chairman Dave Biggs, Mrs Rule wrote: “I cannot be a party to what happened yesterday in the voting at full council; if I say nothing then I would be assumed to condone what most of the Conservative group did.
“The impact of what was voted through to get a zero per cent council tax rise to ‘protect the most vulnerable in our community’ will have the opposite effect, in my opinion. There will be massive job losses and cuts to services in adult social care that have to follow on from that vote.”
However, she will remain on the council’s cabinet, having been asked to stay by leader Jim Currie.
Mrs Rule said she had been “proud” to be part of the Conservative group under former leader Alec Robertson, who represents the Helston north division, but was now returning to her roots as an Independent councillor, as she was when she began in local politics.
She joined the Conservatives at the formation of the unitary authority in 2009, as she felt such a big organisation needed party political input, but she said: “I’m not a party political person. I will not be dictated to by central government and what they have done.
“I only went into politics to try and help people. I’m there to represent the people of Cornwall, especially Mullion division, but also the whole of Cornwall.”
Councillor Lance Kennedy has also resigned from the Conservative group in protest and joined the Independents.