Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Divided constituency party to vote on leadership
3:00pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
CONSERVATIVE Party members will tomorrow tonight (Friday, March 15) hold a secret ballot to decide the future leadership of the Thirsk and Malton constituency association.
Members of the group, whose executive has voted not to automatically re-adopt Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh as its candidate for the next general election, will be offered the choice of selecting Kirkbymoorside councillor David Cussons as its chairman or reappointing former Jockey Club stewards’ secretary Peter Steveney.
Senior figures in the group said Mr Steveney, of South Otterington, near Northallerton, who has served as the association’s chairman since 2009, is seeking to be given the role for one year to oversee a number of changes.
They say Conservative Party rules allow for an officer of the executive to remain in a position for an extra year after a three-year term to ensure continuity.
Ex-chairman of Ryedale Conservative Association, Martin Van Der Weyer, said what happens within the association would be likely to determine who becomes the constituency's next MP, and arguments surrounding it needed to come out in the open.
Other leading members voiced frustration that Miss McIntosh has not indicated whether the MP selection process should feature an open panel meeting with a choice of three candidates, including Miss McIntosh, or an open postal ballot for constituency members.
Miss McIntosh dismissed claims that she had ignored a deadline over the decision, saying there was no agreed time frame.
She said while she would attend the group’s annual general meeting tonight in Hovingham, near Malton, she did not become involved in the constituency party elections and wanted to work closely with, and expected support from, whoever was chosen.
She said: “Peter Steveney has served with some distinction. Officers serve for three years and we need some fresh blood in the group.
“We are a relatively new constituency and need people that can bring the constituency party together.”
Mr Van Der Weyer said: “We all need to hear why Anne and her local committee keep falling out, and we need to be reminded where she stands on major local issues.
“That way, party activists will be far better placed to canvass opinion as to whether she should have the chance to continue as our MP beyond 2015 or not.”