COUNCILLOR Lee Barney has switched allegiances from the Conservative Party to become a member of UKIP.
The Walton Park councillor announced his decision on Monday morning, but there was confusion when the United Kingdom Independence Party also claimed Councillor Don Hoyle (Loughton Park) was to join Mr Barney as a member – a claim later refuted by both Mr Hoyle and the leader of Milton Keynes Council, Councillor Andrew Geary.
UKIP had sent copies of resignation letters from both Mr Barney and Mr Hoyle to the Citizen and were ‘excited’ at the prospect of having two members on Milton Keynes Council.
Mr Geary confirmed that Mr Barney had left the group, but added that Mr Hoyle was staying after talks on Monday. A full statement is expected from the Conservatives today.
When asked to comment on his new membership, Mr Hoyle denied that he was leaving the Conservatives.
He said: “I’d like to confirm my position – I am remaining a member of the Conservative Party and as a councillor for Milton Keynes Council.”
In his ‘resignation’ letter to Mr Geary, Mr Hoyle had highlighted national issues which he felt let down by.
He wrote: “Please let me emphasise that my decision is based entirely on the national position of the Parliamentary Conservative Party and has nothing to do with my relationship either with you or colleagues in the local party.
“In fact my loyalty to you and the Conservative group on Milton Keynes Council has been the reason that I have stayed in the Conservative Party for as long as I have.”
A UKIP spokesman admitted he only heard about Mr Hoyle’s U-turn via the Citizen’s Twitter feed.
He said: “Leaving one political party for another is a tough decision to make – especially if you have been part of the party for a long time like Mr Hoyle.
“We’d obviously be disappointed, but we wish him all the best. But we know what his intentions are and we know how he feels about certain issues.”
Mr Barney said he was leaving the Conservative group to join UKIP as a result of Tory politics on a national level, and that he’d still be doing his utmost to meet the needs of his constituents.
He said: “I have been considering my future since the Budget was announced back in April.
“As a former soldier, I am deeply hurt that the Coalition Government does not value our troops, serving personnel or their families by cutting troop numbers.
“From personal experience, I know that the one thing every soldier wants is more soldiers not less and I could not continue as a Conservative when my brothers and sisters at arms are being slashed by the people who should be watching their backs.
“I’ll still do everything I can to represent the views of my constituents – the only thing that will change is the colour of the badge I’ll wear.”
Labour parliamentary candidate Andrew Pakes, said that Mr Barney’s defection shows the level of discontent among the Tory councillors at David Cameron’s policies and added that it could be detrimental to the people of Milton Keynes.