Bury St Edmunds: Tories draft in councillor and PR expert Sarah Stamp after David Ruffley announces he is to stand down
10:45 02 August 2014
Conservatives in the Bury St Edmunds constituency have had a major shake-up in the wake of the controversy over departing MP David Ruffley.
The association has appointed a new vice-chairman who is expected to give it a clearer political direction and – crucially – to improve its public relations.
Borough and county councillor Sarah Stamp, who runs her own communications business in Bury, has been drafted in as vice-chairman as the association paves the way for the selection of a successor to Mr Ruffley who announced last week that he would not be standing again for parliament next year following the revelation about his police caution for common assault.
The association itself has come under fire from some quarters because of its early support for Mr Ruffley – and many Conservatives, as well as their political opponents, felt it appeared to under-play the concern about domestic violence.
Mrs Stamp is seen as a modern Conservative voice at both St Edmundsbury – where she is cabinet member for leisure – and Suffolk councils.
She greeted her appointment on Facebook saying: “Pleased to announce that at a meeting of the Bury St Edmunds Constituency Conservative Association last night I was co-opted as Deputy Chairman (Political and Campaigning).
“This means that I will be heavily involved in the robust and fair selection of our candidate to fight next year’s general election.”
The meeting decided to use the next six weeks preparing to prepare to start the selection process for a new candidate.
It is unlikely to formally advertise the vacancy until the middle of September – which means it could take until the end of November before the new candidate is in place.
It is understood there was a robust discussion at the meeting between those who felt Mr Ruffley had been hounded into announcing his decision to step down and those who believed he should have accepted from the start that his position was untenable and he should have made the announcement weeks ago.
However by the end of the meeting, it is understood that there was agreement about the need to move on and prepare for the selection of a new candidate.