Independent Whitley Bay councillors deny attempted defection back to Tory party

Councillor Judith Wallace
Councillor Judith Wallace -Credit:Chronicle

Independent councillors in North Tyneside have denied accusations they attempted to defect back to the Conservative Party ahead of this May’s local election.

Ex-Tory councillors in St Mary’s have denied claims in recent Conservative Party campaign literature that they attempted to rejoin the Tories before May 2. In February 2023, St Mary’s councillors Judith Wallace, George Wallace and Pam McIntyre resigned from the Tory Party, claiming the local Federation had become a hotbed of “sustained bullying” and “toxic behaviour”.

The Federation denied the allegations at the time. George Wastewater, formally a leader of the local Conservatives, is now a Labour Party candidate for St Mary’s, having lost his seat as an independent in the 2023 local elections.

When approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in March, Mr Westwater and Labour declined to comment on the Conservative claims he had attempted to rejoin the Conservatives. At the time, Mr Westwater did criticise the local Conservatives more generally, dubbing their comments an example of "negative politics" and a "personal attack".

Independent councillor for St Mary’s Judith Wallace said: “We are firmly independent, we have made that absolutely clear. Unfortunately, the tone of a lot of Conservative material is completely inaccurate.”

A spokesperson for the North Tyneside Conservatives reaffirmed the claims that all three had their applications to return to the Conservatives rejected and “their claims to have now put party politics aside are for the birds”.

A statement on behalf of the St Mary’s Independents read: “In recent months two Conservative councillors have been found guilty of breaching the Standards Code. Until just before the close of nominations, one of the St Mary’s Conservative candidates was begging Pam McIntyre to rejoin the Conservative Party, offering her a place on their ticket; we don’t know which of their colleagues they were planning to ditch.

“Pam McIntyre and Judith Wallace are the only candidates who are independent and live in Whitley Bay and work hard for residents all year round and put St Mary’s first, above all else.”