Conservative stalwart Bob Dhillon has been prevented from standing as a town and district councillor in next month’s elections – because he has been adopted as the prospective parliamentary candidate in Sunderland.
Despite the local Conservative Party giving every indication that it was accepting Cllr Dhillon as a candidate earlier this year, it has now been decided that the former mayor cannot stand.
This and other factors will leave the Tories short of a Warwick Town candidate for Saltisford, where Cllr Dhillon lives, as well as one Warwick District Council candidate. While Labour has decided not to contest Myton and Heathcote ward in the town council elections.
On Wednesday Cllr Dhillon said: “I was very, very disappointed not to be allowed to continue to stand in the town I have represented for the past ten years.
“I did believe I could handle both election campaigns and there is nothing in the rules to stop me doing that. It’s true I do want to also stand for Parliament and will be fighting a Labour majority of 11,000 in Sunderland.
“If I do well in Sunderland then I would love to stand in some future General Election as the MP for Warwick and Leamington.”
Political parties often try out the skills of prospective parliamentary hopefuls by seeing how well they do during campaigns in hard-to-fight constituencies.
Speaking on behalf of the Conservatives, Cllr Moira-Ann Grainger said: “As a party we like our candidates to be in one place. It is not against the rules but it is against national policy to have somebody fighting in different parts of the country.”
In recent years Cllr Dhillon has come under criticism from district colleagues and council officers for his outspoken opposition on issues like the Local Plan and the potential sale of part of St Mary’s Lands which led to him facing a Standards hearing in 2013.
In March this year he was awarded the West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Chief Officer Commendation for his part in helping save the life of former district council chairman and Kenilworth councillor Richard Davies, who collapsed during a speech in 2014.
Cllr Dhillon, helped by county police chief Andy Parker, provided CPR until an ambulance crew arrived.
His long-term political opponent on the Labour benches, county councillor John Holland, said this week: “Bob became something of a folk hero in Warwick when the district council took disciplinary action against him in full council. He was seen to be standing up against the council in favour of the town rather than his party.”