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Mayor turns blue

The Town Mayor this week spoke out to defend his controversial decision to join the Conservatives after representing the Labour Party for six years on the borough council.

Martin Heywood and his wife Jean resigned from Hertsmere Borough Council's Labour group in October to become independent councillors, blaming political in-fighting.

Last week, after Mrs Heywood lost her seat in the borough council elections earlier this month, the couple announced that they had joined the Conservative Party.

Mr Heywood's move means that the Tories, who gained their first borough council seat in Borehamwood for 26 years on May 2, now have two borough councillors in the town.

He said: "It was a very, very hard decision and I expect people to turn around to me and say that they voted for me as Labour and call me a turncoat.

"But I have always been of the view that party politics doesn't matter at this level we are there to represent the needs of the local people in the best way that we can."

They chose to join the Tories because, as a lone independent councillor, Mr Heywood would not have a place on council committees and would have little influence.

He said that, by sitting on council committees as a Conservative, he would be in a much better position to represent the interests of the people of Cowley Hill ward.

Mrs Heywood, who intends to stand for re-election next year, added: "The Conservatives have really changed I think they listen more and they realise that the people do matter."

Council leader Neil Payne said he welcomed Mr Heywood to his group: "Both he and Jean are renowned across Borehamwood as being hard-working and, above all, caring councillors."

But Labour group leader Frank Ward called for Mr Heywood to resign his seat, arguing that the couple told the public they had not changed their Labour principles in the election campaign.

"To then become members of the Conservative Party within a few days is, quite honestly, a blatant act of arrogance and betrayal of the worst kind I have come across," he said.

Mr Heywood is also the Mayor of Elstree and Borehamwood and he and his wife intend to remain on the town council as Tories and fight their seats in next year's town council elections.

*Mr Heywood's decision means that the Conservatives have a record number of seats on the borough council, with 25, while Labour have nine seats and the Liberal Democrats have five.



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