Former Conservative group leader in Eastbourne quits party

The former leader of Eastbourne’s Conservative group has resigned in protest over the direction of the national party.
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Earlier this week, Eastbourne Borough Council confirmed that Tony Freebody, a long-serving Conservative councillor for Ratton ward, had become the authority’s sole Independent councillor.

Cllr Freebody confirmed he had resigned his party membership on Wednesday (June 22).

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He said: “I couldn’t continue to be part of a party which does not reflect my values.

Eastbourne councillor for Ratton, Tony FreebodyEastbourne councillor for Ratton, Tony Freebody
Eastbourne councillor for Ratton, Tony Freebody

“My decision is no reflection on the local party — on [Conservative group leader] Robert [Smart], Colin Belsey or [MP] Caroline [Ansell] — it is purely because of what is happening at a national level.

“I intend to remain a councillor for the rest of my term. With an election less than ten months away, it would be a waste of taxpayer money to hold a by-election at this time.”

A Conservative councillor since 2015, Cllr Freebody had formerly been the opposition party’s group leader on Eastbourne Borough Council. He stood down from that role in April 2020, stating a desire to focus on his day job with the NHS during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Reacting to Cllr Freebody’s resignation, Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said: “I was very sorry to hear of Tony’s decision but I completely respect it. He is a brilliant councillor, my friend and someone who is dedicated to public service.”

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