Conservative group severs ties with Lancaster City Councillor

A Lancaster City Councillor has had his ties to the local Conservative group severed following a row over council tax relief.

Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 1:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th February 2019, 2:08 pm
Coun Charlie Edwards.

Coun Charlie Edwards, who represents Bare Ward, has had the whip withdrawn until the end of his council term in May.

Coun Edwards, who is also a Lancashire County councillor representing Morecambe South, has confirmed he will still be the Conservative candidate for Bare in the local council elections on May 2.

Peter Williamson, leader of the Lancaster City Council Conservative group said: “The Conservative Group agreed at a pre-Council Group meeting in December 2018 (at which Councillor Edwards was present) that they would oppose once again Labour’s budget proposal to allow 100 per cent Council Tax Relief to able bodied people of working age (this does not include the disabled or pensioners).

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“Lancaster is the only District Council in Lancashire to grant this relief (and indeed Lancaster is one of the few Councils nationally to grant this relief). “A recent survey of council tax payers in the Lancaster district, which generated over 4,000 responses, indicated that over 80 per cent of residents thought that ‘everyone who is able bodied and of working age should pay something towards their Council Tax bill’.

“At the December 2018 meeting of Lancaster City Council, the Conservative Group Leader spoke against the Labour proposals in accordance with the Group’s agreed policy, outlining that even a minimal contribution of say £100 per person currently in receipt of this relief would not only meet resident’s views but would also raise over £300,000 in Council Tax, shifting the burden away from those who worked.

“As soon as the Group Leader had finished his speech, Coun Edwards addressed the Council and contradicted the Group’s position, putting forward his own ideas.

“On the 26 February 2019, the Conservative Group met - Coun Edwards having been given notice of the meeting as well as being advised of the Group’s concerns about his action.

“A proposal was made and seconded that the Conservative Whip be withdrawn from Councillor Edwards with immediate effect until the end of this Council term.

“A secret ballot of the 13 Group members present at the meeting was held.

“The outcome of that ballot was that 12 members supported the proposal and one member did not and the proposal was carried.”

Coun Edwards was elected onto the city council in May 2015. He is also a Lancashire County Councillor, representing Morecambe South, where he is also Lead Member for Health & Adult Services.

He was elected as a county councillor in May 2017, and sits on the Health Scrutiny Committee and the Pension Fund Committee.

He is also a director of Lancashire County Developments Limited.

Coun Edwards said he did not wish to comment further on the matter.