'I will not be silenced': Kettering councillor speaks out after losing Tory membership for questioning skateboarding ban
A Kettering councillor says he will not be silenced after being kicked out of the Conservative group for questioning their decision to ban skateboarding in the town.
Cllr Steve Bellamy (Barton Seagrave) was voted out at a secret meeting on Monday night by fellow Tories and will now sit as an independent.
He and fellow councillor Michael Brown (Con, Brambleside) had put forward a motion to refer the controversial banning of skateboarding back to the executive committee for further discussion.
But Cllr Bellamy lost his Tory membership just weeks after the motion was defeated – and he has slammed the council for their “lack of democracy”.
He said: “I’ve got nothing to apologise for and I stand by my principles.
“I went into the meeting fully aware of the consequences but I’m not going to be silenced. It’s not a democracy, it’s draconian.
“I was surprised by the amount of support the motion got but it wasn’t enough.
“The council group are effectively toothless and get steamrolled by the leaders and executive.
“As soon as it was defeated I think the dark arts were at work but it’s disgusting if people can’t even have a proper debate.
“Forget the pros and cons of the PSPO, the executive snowballed the decision.
“They haven’t even considered the serious legal and criminal consequences it will have on the people of Kettering.”
Kettering Council became the first authority in the country to ban skateboarding under the new PSPO in December 2015.
Under the law skaters are prohibited from the Morrisons car park, pedestrian zone within the town centre, the Market Place and library steps – despite a petition against it amassing more than 3,000 signatures.
Cllr Bellamy told the Northants Telegraph that Cllr Brown’s Conservative future was also put to a vote, but he retained his membership.
He added: “Councillors are not politicians and we shouldn’t be afraid to represent the views of our constituents.
“It’s not about party politics, it’s about doing what’s right.
“This decision has highlighted severe flaws in the council’s policies and the cracks are there, so we’ll see where it goes next.
“If they’re going to kick me out for questioning it, then bring it on.
“I know that I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I’ve been honest and held my integrity.”
Cllr Bellamy resigned from the executive committee in January having first been elected in 2011.
He will now sit as an independent – and he is looking forward to going it alone.
He added: “I’m actually quite pleased with the decision, I feel free.
“There are several councillors within the Conservatives that I highly respect but it’s just that select few that I have a problem with.
“I’ve spoken to Ruth Groome [Kettering Council’s only indpendent councillor until now] and there’s a lot to look forward to.
“If anyone has any questions or ideas they’d like to ask me, I’d urge them to come forward.
“People should get out there and vote for independent voices, there are a lot of young people out there who don’t vote who can change the balance of power.”
Kettering Council has not responded to the Northants Telegraph’s request for a response to Cllr Bellamy’s views.
A by-election will be held for the ward of St Peter’s next Thursday (March 24) after the resignation of Terry Freer.