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‘I want to be able to speak out’ -Tory councillor quits party to join Greens

PUBLISHED: 16:59 15 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:59 15 November 2018

Caroline Topping will join Waveney District's Green Councillor for Beccles North, Graham Elliott and Suffolk County Councillor for Beccles Division, Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw as a member of the Green Party. Photo: Graham Elliott.

Caroline Topping will join Waveney District's Green Councillor for Beccles North, Graham Elliott and Suffolk County Councillor for Beccles Division, Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw as a member of the Green Party. Photo: Graham Elliott.

Archant

A Tory councillor has quit the party and joined the Greens after growing tired of standing behind policies which she believes hurts her community.

Waveney District councillor Caroline Topping, who represents Beccles South, resigned from the Conservative Party on Wednesday, November 14.

In doing so the former Beccles mayor has also stepped down from her role as deputy cabinet member for the council – a position she has held since May 2017.

Mrs Topping said the switch will allow her to fight for members of her community who have become victims of Tory austerity. The 52-year-old said: “This is what is right for me. There are issues happening in the community that I can best help by not being in the controlling party.

“I feel much more closely aligned to the Green Party on important local issues and I very much share their core values, especially with regards to fostering community spirit, encouraging younger residents to get involved, supporting the elderly and people who are suffering with mental health issues.

“I have no doubt that this was the right decision to make, and it is great to feel passionate and excited again about my role in the community.”

She added: “As a member of the Conservative Party there is an expectation that members must toe the party line which meant having to stand behind messages I did not agree with and policies I know some people in Beccles South did not elect me to support.

“They have got a limited budget and something has to give, but some of the things they are cutting are not for the benefit of my community.

“I want to be able to speak out and say I don’t agree with this. There are issues happening in the community that I can best help by not being in the controlling party.”

Mrs Topping added: “This isn’t to do with politics, it’s about me as a person and what I think is best for my community.”

“I am proud to now represent a party that believes that building a fairer society and protecting the planet for future generations go hand in hand”

Mark Bee, Conservative leader on Waveney District Council, defended the party’s policies.

He said: “I am sorry that Caroline has chosen to leave the Conservative group. I have always seen her as a friend and I have known her for a long time.

“I was disappointed with how she did it, that she chose to leave in the middle of a council meeting.

“Our policies are of the benefit of the people of Beccles. The work we are doing is to try and help regenerate the town.

“I wish her well, it is sad she has felt that she has needed to do this, but that’s politics.”

The Green Party

Caroline Topping has been welcomed with open arms as she moves to join her fellow Beccles Town councillors Graham Elliott and Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw in the Green Party.

Mr Elliott, Waveney District councillor for Beccles North, said: “It is a great pleasure that we welcome Caroline into our team. She is a hard working and dedicated local councillor who puts the needs of residents above everything else.

“It will be great to see Caroline re-establish herself as a fiercely independent councillor sharing our values and sticking up for the people of Beccles.”

Mrs Brambley-Crawshaw, who represents Beccles for Suffolk County Council, said: “I enjoy working with Caroline, and we’ve worked collaboratively and fruitfully on many projects in Beccles. During my Mayoral year she’s become a close colleague and friend.

“It’s wonderful that she’s joining Graham and I, we share the same values, love for this town and the community within. We look forward to energetically and fearlessly representing the town together.”

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