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Gloucestershire Business News

Vexed in the city: councillor jumps ship to Lib Dems

Gloucester's Abbeydale ward has a new direction of political leadership after its city council representative jumped ship from the Tories to the Liberal Democrats.

That may not sound like a political earthquake, but the move by Dr Collette Finnegan, who represents the Abbeydale ward and who was elected as mayor of Gloucester in May 2021, marks a further salami slice in the balance of who actually runs the city council – with increasing leverage shifting towards the Liberal Democrats.

Last November, Barton ward councillor Usmain Bhainia trod the same political journey to the Liberal Democrats.

With 39 councillors representing the city in total, the move from Cllrs Bhainia and Finnegan reduces the Conservative leadership to 21, while the Liberal Democrat opposition rises to 14, the latter sitting alongside two Labour and two community independent representatives. 

Cllr Finnegan confirmed that she was now serving as a Lib Dem and she told Punchline-Gloucester.com that she intends to take steps against former colleagues over claims of bullying.

Cllr Finnegan said: "There have been inaccurate reports about me being deselected. I resigned and I am now planning to take legal action for the things that were said about me and the way that personal details were used in breach of data protection."

Cllr Finnegan said she had reached the end of the road in her work as a Conservative councillor because of what she claimed as a "culture of bullying".

"The approach to meetings with other parties seems a lot more free, but with the Conservatives, you are told you must vote in this way and you have no freedom for your own beliefs.

"People I represent are horrified that it has come to this, that when you put your head up and make a stand you are treated in this way, but that's political life."

She added that the mood at Gloucester City Council resonated with the temperature of political controversy currently being witnessed at Westminster.

She said: "What we are seeing this week at Westminster is happening here, make no mistake. I have not witnessed the nastiness, however, in the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties that I saw in the Conservatives."

Cllr Richard Cook, leader of the Conservative group, said: "With regret the Conservative whip had to be withdrawn from Cllr Finnegan on 29th January 2024.

"I'm proud of our record in delivering for Gloucester since 2021. We've built a record number of new homes, improved green spaces, boosted our cultural offering, and pushed forward regeneration.

"On Thursday I will present a budget that continues to move our city forward. In May, we will be judged on our record and our positive plan for Gloucester, based on local residents' priorities."

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