Tories in turmoil as two top councillors come under fire

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OUTRAGE has been expressed over the treatment of a former senior Conservative councillor who has been told he will not be able to defend his seat at Bradford Council’s elections in May.

Adrian Naylor, who at one time held the role of executive member for regeneration and economy in the city, has been ousted following a secret ballot by a panel of judges selected by the Keighley and Ilkley Conservative Association.

But why the 52-year-old member for Craven has been rejected by his own group is unclear.

He has now lodged an appeal against the decision which will be heard sooner than later according to Coun Dorothy Clamp, chairman of the Keighley and Ilkley Conservative Association.

She admitted yesterday: “It is a mess and needs sorting out as soon as possible.

“I understand why people will be bewildered but I am unable to comment on the reasons why Adrian has not been selected because I do not want to prejudice his appeal.

“We have been very careful not to accuse Adrian of anything in public.

“I think this will be heard by people from the region and it wants to take place sooner rather than later. It is not good for Adrian and for anyone else either.”

Coun Naylor was elected as one of Bradford Council’s Craven ward representatives in 2006 during a by-election following the death of David Emmott. Two years later he retained his Craven seat with 67.2 per cent of the vote.

At the same time he was appointed the council’s executive member for regeneration and economy after the then leader Kris Hopkins sacked his fellow ward councillor Andrew Mallinson. He kept the role of regeneration chief until May 2010 when Labour regained control of the council.

It was widely accepted that his achievements were many. Funding was secured for City Park, he was a key figure in the controversial development of Buck Lane Science Park in Baildon and he was also involved in plans to build council houses - the first in the district for 30 years - at Pavilion Gardens in West Bowling.

One longstanding Bradford Conservative party member, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I think his lawyer will have a field day when it comes to his appeal. The people behind this are kicking him and I feel very sorry for him. He is a very effective councillor.

“The Conservative Party has always been a broad church and this action shows it as anything but. I expect him to fight this and I think he will do every inch of the way.”

A Bradford Conservative councillor, who also didn’t want to be named said Coun Naylor had been the victim of a “kangaroo court”.

The councillor added: “If he stands as an Independent at the next elections I think there is a very good chance he could win.”

Meanwhile, the former chairman of Metro - the regional transport body - Coun Chris Greaves has finally been thrown out of the Conservative Party in Bradford.

Coun Greaves, who represents the Wharfedale ward, resigned on a matter of principle from the Tory group in June last year after expressing concerns over the alleged “forging” of a colleague’s signature.

He continued as an Independent on the council but his membership of the Conservative Party was suspended while an investigation was carried out. His membership is now over.

Coun Greaves, a member of the Conservative party for 45 years, said: “There is an atmosphere of fear in the Conservative group and most members are terrified of putting their heads above the parapet.

“I am disappointed but not at all surprised. The whole thing was a stitch up from the start. Any criticism is not tolerated. Regarding Adrian I have known him for around 10 years and there is a great deal of disquiet about the way in which he has been treated.”

robert.sutcliffe@ypn.co.uk