The councillor for the Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park ward, Allen Mayes, was elected on a Thurrock Independent platform at the local elections in May of last year. Mayes has now decided to cross the floor to join the Tories on the ruling group at Thurrock Council. This is how his decision has been reported in the local media: Independent in Tilbury ward quits group to join Tories.

It was only last July that Mayes posted this on his Facebook page: “This calamity Tory Council has got to go. People deserve a council which values residents and spends their hard earned money wisely.” Now he wants a slice of the action on the ruling group he was slagging off last summer. Seriously, you couldn’t make this up!

Mayes needs to be reminded that when 712 voters in his ward voted him in last summer, it was because they thought they would be getting a councillor with no party political baggage whose sole focus was the interests of the residents. If the voters in the ward wanted a Tory representing them, they would have voted in Daryl Palmer. The fact that Palmer only got 103 votes clearly indicates that the voters did not want a Tory representing them. Well, now Mayes has crossed the floor, they’re now lumbered with a Tory councillor!

There’s only one honourable course of action Mayes can now take which is to stand down as a councillor, force a by-election and let the voters of Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park ward decide if they want him representing them as a Tory. Staying on as a councillor is a making a mockery of a system of local democracy that’s already on its knees. Before anyone chips in saying this is us being anti-Tory, if an independent councillor decided they wanted to join the Labour group, we would still be calling for them to stand down, force a by-election and let the voters make the choice.

Political pundits wonder why turnouts are so low at local elections. One reason has to be this kind of self-serving behaviour from local councillors who feel they’re entitled to switch political allegiances in the early part of their term and then not give the voters a chance to have their say. The consequence of this is that what little is left of people’s trust in local democracy is rapidly eroding away…