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Canary Wharf Conservative councillor quits party

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:23 17 February 2020

Cllr Andrew Wood. Picture: Mike Brooke

Cllr Andrew Wood. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

The leader of the Conservative group on Tower Hamlets Council has resigned from the party.

Westferry scheme with skyscrapers right down to the waterfront at Millwall. Picture: MaceWestferry scheme with skyscrapers right down to the waterfront at Millwall. Picture: Mace

Cllr Andrew Wood, who represents Canary Wharf, has quit as leader of the opposition group and becomes an independent councillor.

However, in a blog post Cllr Wood confirmed he would remain part of the Tory grouping to make sure there's a formal opposition on the council.

Two members are needed to meet the rules for making up an opposition group.

The resignation statement reads: "My reasons for leaving are mainly because I have lost confidence in the ability of the Conservative Party as an institution to make good use of the power it now has.

"While it has an extraordinary ability to win elections (and is even luckier in its opponents) it is weaker on what to do with that power."

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"I disagree with too many Conservative policies/decisions to stay in not just because I think some are wrong but that I also think too many policies are inadequate given the challenges and opportunities we now face."

Cllr Woods' statement adds that while he has been critical of Tower Hamlets he has also been "almost as critical" of recent government decisions, including its hard stance on Brexit.

But he adds that "the final nail in the coffin" was secretary of state for housing Robert Jenrick's decision to approve Westferry Printworks against the advice of his own planning inspector.

"That decision was so shocking I knew immediately that I had to resign," Cllr Wood writes.

The controversial Westferry housing scheme is due to go ahead on the Isle of Dogs after Mr Jenrick overruled Tower Hamlets Council's objections and gave developers the green light.

Cllr Wood's blog post also states that in 2016 he applied to become a Conservative Party parliamentary candidate "to try and influence the party from the inside" but was twice rejected even though other Tower Hamlets applicants became candidates.

The statement ends asking readers whether he should resign and hold a by-election.

"I got elected in May 2018 as a Conservative, does leaving the party but staying in the Conservative group work or not? I think for most residents the work I do won't change but many people vote for parties not individuals, so can I still represent you until May 2022, the next scheduled election?" the statement says.

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