The Conservatives are clinging onto their majority and the party leader has been voted out after a series of shock results in the West Lindsey District Council elections.
And if that was not enough for the Tories, ousted leader Jeff Summers says he is now considering becoming an Independent - a move that would plunge the council into a ‘hung’ set up, with no party in overall control.
Waddingham and Spital councillor Jeff Summers lost the leadership vote to Nettleham’s Giles McNeill at the West Lindsey Conservative party AGM on Saturday (May 4).
Coun Summers has since hit out at the district’s voters - and questioned the appointmentof new party leader Coun McNeill.
He said: “First of all, I’m extremely disappointed in the electorate.
“There’s a difference between local government and national government.
“Brexit has nothing to do with local government.
“It’s most unfair.
“It’s very unfair for local councillors especially as in West Lindsey we’ve worked so hard in the last four years to bring improvements to the district.
“We’ve done a number of things such as getting a new hotel, new shop fronts, we’ve invested £7million in leisure, £6million on a new crematorium, getting a railway line from Gainsborough to Sheffield - there’s lots of things we’ve done.
“I really don’t know what people want.
“It’s very disappointing.
“We’ve lost some very good councillors.
“Tom Smith in Market Rasen, Sheila Bibb in Gainsborough - her knowledge and ability was second to none.
“Who knows who we’ve got in their place. It’s a cruel world.
“Over the last six years I’ve been leader of West Lindsey District Council.
“At our AGM on Saturday the Conservative councillors voted me out. That’s the amount of gratitude I’ve received.
“He’s old enough [to be leader], but not grown up. He lives at home with his parents.
“It’s been extremely disappointing but life will go on.
“I’ve every intention of serving my ward, whether as a Conservative or an Independent councillor.
“I haven’t decided yet.
“I will sign up on Tuesday as Conservative, but if they start fiddling with what’s been done… In the last four years we’ve created more work and brought more money into West Lindsey than ever before - money has been pumped into local communities.
“I’ve had six years as leader and I’ve been a councillor since 2002, 17 years.
“During that period I’ve managed to hold the leadership role longer than anyone else.”
Coun Summer said he was given ‘no explanation’ for being voted out as leader.
He said: “Politics is a dirty game - you see what goes on in Westminster. I’ve not had any training in the politics world - I don’t want any, it’s a nasty world. I’m just a local man serving the community.
“We’ll see what happens at full council. If I walk, it’s a hung council. I’ve got the power at the moment. If they start interfering with the strategies and growth of the district I shall use my vote.”
Discussing Coun Summers’s potential switch to an Independent, Coun McNeill said: “That’s what people say in anger.
“I would very much hope Jeff would remain part of the team. It’s our intention to follow the manifesto. It’ll be a real shame if he didn’t want to be part of the administration implementing that. For him, of course, it’s [losing his role as leader] very raw still.
“I suspect he’s saying things without thinking what the consequences would be long-term.
“It will of course be a decision for him. I would be very sad to lose him.”
And responding to Coun Summers’s comments about his work ethic, Coun McNeill said: “I welcome his thoughts on that.
“I’ve sent him three emails since I was elected but he hasn’t bothered replying.
“He’s upset. It’s a brutal business. I’ve had all sorts of conversations… I’ve been speaking with the leader of the opposition Trevor Young.
“I will be a different sort of leader than Jeff. My intention is to not be a one man band - Jeff did a lot himself. Everyone is different.
“The one thing everyone knows about Jeff is what a gentleman he is. His anger is not directed at me personally, it’s just grief. “