Tory fumes after exclusion from residents’ AGM

A CONSERVATIVE activist claims he was told to leave a residents’ meeting in Dewsbury because he is an election candidate.

Mark Eastwood said he agreed to do so last Wednesday having gone to Shaw Cross Community Centre.

The Tory, standing in Dewsbury East at next week’s council election, heard about the meeting while canvassing around Fieldhead Gardens.

He went after checking it was okay with a tenants’ and residents’ association (TRA) member.

But Mr Eastwood claimed he was told during a break it was “inappropriate” for him to have attended.

Coun Eric Firth (Lab), seeking re-election next week, was there but seemingly not asked to leave.

He explained it was the Shaw Cross TRA’s annual general meeting (AGM) and added TRA meetings are not ‘public’ events.

Coun Firth said: “It’s true that I was there.

“But I didn't have my candidate’s hat on – I was there as a councillor.”

He added of Mr Eastwood’s exclusion: “There was no ulterior motive. It wasn’t a hustings.”

At the AGM a new committee was elected and issues such as dog-fouling were discussed.

Coun Firth added no other candidates were there – and for Mr Eastwood to stay, all of them would have had to have been invited, which they were not.

He added of TRA meetings: “If you’re from Earlsheaton or Chickenley, even if you’re a tenant, you wouldn’t have been able to attend.”

Mr Eastwood complained about his exclusion to umbrella group the Kirklees Federation of TRAs (KFTRA).

He said: “It was a public meeting in the sense that it was advertised on every door in the Shaw Cross estate.

“Why should the candidate of one party be allowed to attend but not one from another party?

“It shows how the Labour Party works. They don’t seem to want anybody else operating on what they consider to be their ‘patch’."

A KFTRA spokeswoman said they are looking into the claims but declined to comment in detail.

She said: “Mr Eastwood has issued KFTRA with a formal complaint and we now need to fully investigate without prejudicing the outcome.”

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