Tories struggle to contain row

SENIOR Conservatives were today hoping to pour oil on troubled waters as the row between party members in Ipswich and Suffolk.Ipswich Conservative Association published an angry statement hitting out at the decision by the Tory administration at Suffolk County Council to appoint Andrea Hill as chief executive on £220,000 a year.

SENIOR Conservatives were today hoping to pour oil on troubled waters as the row between party members in Ipswich and Suffolk.

Ipswich Conservative Association published an angry statement hitting out at the decision by the Tory administration at Suffolk County Council to appoint Andrea Hill as chief executive on £220,000 a year.

The Ipswich statement, signed by council leader Liz Harsant, accused the county's Conservatives of acting irresponsibly and described the decision as a slap in the face for council taxpayers.

County council leader Jeremy Pembroke insisted it was vital to appoint the best person for the job - and the county needed strong leadership at a difficult time as local government in East Anglia was facing a major reform.

Now Ipswich Conservative candidate Ben Gummer, who will be trying to win the parliamentary seat off Chris Mole at the next general election, has insisted that the argument is no more than a disagreement among friends.

He said: “It is just that the Ipswich Conservative Association and the county council have different views on this matter - we are all still members of the same party and good friends.

Most Read

“We recognise that the Suffolk Conservatives take a certain view. It is just on this point that we think they are wrong. The administration is doing a good job, and Jeremy Pembroke is a very decent chap.”

Mr Gummer was doubtful whether Mrs Hill would be earning the whole £220,000 a year and accused the Labour opposition of stirring up the row.

He said: “Kevan Lim has been going around saying she will be earning £220,000 a year, but that is the upper limit and we don't know if she will be getting that much. This has all been stirred up by Labour because they are desperate to find votes in the Ipswich election.”

Mr Mole said it was incredible for the Conservatives to claim this was not a major disagreement - it was clear that the two sections had a major disagreement.

He said: “I have never seen a press comment like it. The Ipswich Conservatives have launched an astonishing attack on the county Tories. How is anyone able to believe that this is all a friendly disagreement?”