Conservatives in Corby expel borough councillor after fire cuts meeting

Cllr Stan Heggs
Cllr Stan Heggs

A Conservative councillor in Corby has been expelled from the party’s borough council group.

Cllr Stan Heggs, who represents Stanion and Corby Village ward, has been thrown out of the Tory group after chairing last Thursday’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting, which included a debate on the proposal to scrap the town’s second fire engine.

Cllr Heggs is also a county councillor, where he represents the Corby Rural divison - and is a member of the fire and rescue scrutiny committee.

Corby Conservatives say his chairing of the borough council meeting therefore represented a conflict of interest - and that he was warned beforehand about it.

Cllr Heggs’ expulsion from the borough council group means he will sit as an independent until the council elections in May. His status as a Conservative county councillor has not been affected.

Although the Conservative administration at county hall is in charge of the fire service in Northamptonshire, Tories in Corby are opposed to the proposal to replace one of the town’s fire engines with a smaller Cobra vehicle.

Group deputy leader Cllr Rob McKellar won applause from Fire Brigades Union members at Thurday’s meeting when he demanded the county council ring-fence spending on the fire service.

In a statement, the Conservative group said: “We can confirm that Cllr Stan Heggs has been expelled from the Conservative Group on Corby Borough Council. The expulsion means that he will no longer sit as a Conservative councillor on Corby Borough Council or take part in any Conservative Group decision making.

“The suspension will not affect his status as a Conservative county councillor and nor will it affect his membership of the Corby and East Northamptonshire Conservative Association or the Conservative Party nationally. He will continue to sit as an elected member of Corby Borough Council, but will do so as an independent councillor and not as a Conservative councillor.

“Cllr Heggs sat as chair of Corby Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee during a debate on fire service reductions. As Cllr Heggs is a member of the fire and rescue scrutiny committee on Northamptonshire County Council his chairmanship of the meeting amounted to a conflict of interest. Notwithstanding prior warnings of this Cllr Heggs nevertheless sat as committee chair.

“The Corby Conservatives believe passionately in our emergency services and we are enormously grateful for the bravery and dedication that they show 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are campaigning hard to keep Corby’s second fire engine and we are strongly opposed to any reduction in our local fire coverage. If the Cobra Intervention Vehicle is to be introduced it must be introduced as well as the second fire engine and not instead of it.”

The party also says all its candidates in the borough council elections on May 7 must sign a “Blue Light Promise”, committing them to campaigning against any emergency service cuts “regardless of the authority or political party proposing them”.

It also includes a pledge to campaign for a funding increase for each of the emergency services year-on-year at the rate of inflation or above, and for an annual pay increase for emergency services staff at one per cent above inflation or more.

Read more Corby news here.