Councillor axed in Tory power struggle

Published: 26 Jul 2011 21:5510 comments

Another Chronicle exclusive

A BITTER political power struggle among Reading Conservatives has come to a head with the de-selection of one of its councillors.

Reading borough councillor, Jamie Chowdhary, has been de-selected from Peppard ward for next year's election, with senior sources blaming a faction inside the Reading East party who want to see Cllr Richard Willis replace Cllr Andrew Cumpsty as group leader.

The Chronicle understands Cllr Cumpsty and his backers are considering jumping ship to join the Reading West party and that Wokingham borough councillor Paul Swaddle and his wife Alison, who chairs the Reading East party, are among Cllr Willis' supporters.

When asked to confirm his intentions and whether his leadership was under threat, Cllr Cumpsty said: "I'm very much a member of the Conservative Party and leader of the Conservative group and my thoughts are very much with Jamie.

"I'm deeply disappointed by the news of his de-selection. He has contributed hugely during his time at the council. I have not been involved with this at all, in fact I was told not to be involved. Those people who have been involved should be entirely ashamed of themselves."

Cllr Chowdhary, who is in his fourth year as a councillor, said he felt humiliated but will remain loyal to the party and serve out his term.

He added: "I feel I am just in the wrong place at the wrong time because I am up for selection. My heart is broken.

"Conservative Central headquarters is aware of the situation and are taking this rather seriously, with a possible investigation."

Cllr Willis tonight refused to comment but Reading East deputy chairman Andrew Waters issued a statement which read: "Reading East Conservatives are in the process of selecting their candidates for the Reading Borough Council Local Elections to be held in May 2012.

"All candidates are interviewed by either the Association Selection Committee or local ward branch committee, nominated candidate selection is then subject to ratification later this year by the Reading East Conservative Executive Council.

"Until such time as a nominated candidate has had their selection ratified by the Executive Council, it is not the policy of the party to make public the details of its intended candidates."

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  • Johnny G
    Unregistered User
    Jul 26, 23:23
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    Nothing like a united opposition to hold the ruling Labour gang to account!

    Recommend?   Yes 47     No 11

  • Mr T
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    Jul 27, 10:07
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    I rather liked Jamie and am sorry to see him go. One of the few good Tories. I hope that he gets re-selected again.

    Recommend?   Yes 45     No 24

  • Colin Lee
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    Jul 27, 21:26
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    Richard Willis for leader, is it the 1st April? I thought that it was former Cllr Townend who was the Reading East favourite for leader, but he quit. So who is against Cllr Cumpsty, please stand up and be counted. Might there be an MP or two who have supported a coup? It seems that all the good councillors are going. I have the greatest respect for Cllr Chowdhary. I am sorry that his colleagues do not respect such integrity and honour. All this on top of the News International scandal.

    Recommend?   Yes 41     No 16

  • Rodent
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    Jul 27, 23:41
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    I agree with Mr T. I have found Jamie a throughly nice chap and one that is approachable. He strikes me as being one of the best councillors. He seems diplomatic and trustworth. When I have asked for his help he went for it... - deep into the mire of pythons in the executive to investigate an issue of corruption that I suspected.



    Cumpsty should get back to being a publicist/lobbyist with his grubby mates JM, TP etc. and not bringing others down with him. He has already destroyed the promising career of several good eggs in the Tory Party. With a Google we all know where he is and where he has been!

    Recommend?   Yes 43     No 9

  • Edward Walker
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    Jul 28, 11:34
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    Oh dear! The Tory 'nasty party' have raised their ugly heads again! how typical.







    I don't personally know Councillor Chowdhary but from what I've heard from Council staff and officers, he is a very decent man who gets on with everyone, including those in the other parties, most of whom have a lot of respect for him.







    Well done to Councillor Cumsty and others for standing up for him!







    I'm not at all surprised the way this man has been treated, I know of others who have had the same treatment! I have actually seen some of the emails that have been flying around the Tory camp and the vast majority are very much in favour of this Councillor and say some very nice things about him. Some emails suggest that Mr Chowdhary was deselected because having been bought into the party by Rob Wilson MP and because he would not act as a yes man to his cohorts, they planned his demise.







    This is a terrible reflection from the Tory party who I fear have been greatly damaged by this outrageous episode which may well spell the end of their desire to control Reading Council for a very long time. Well done Tories, you've shot yourselves in the foot, I hope you're all proud of yourselves!!

    Recommend?   Yes 40     No 13

  • Simon Hall
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    Jul 28, 13:29
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    Incredible stupidity by the local Conservatives. I can just see mr Cameron choking on his cornflakes this morning when he read/heard about this debacle.

    Recommend?   Yes 19     No 9

  • Sarah Dominic
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    Jul 28, 13:44
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    Way to go Reading Conservative party! This will surely win you control of Reading Council - NOT!!! I wouldn't hold your breath on your stranglehold in Caversham if I were you, I have a feeling you've just blown it!

    Recommend?   Yes 22     No 9

  • Tom_Ainsworth
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    Jul 28, 16:22
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    Good scoop Chronicle. I met J Chowdhary once, seemed a nice and able chap, though I am no Conservative! (maybe that's their problem with him!)







    Maybe he should stand as an independent? He may not think it worth the time and effort and (unfortunately in this party-dominated world) probable loss, but at the very least he could take plenty of votes from the 'official' Tory candidate and not let them romp home in quite the manner they have been doing in that ward! Perhaps, in this world of new politics, the other parties could even stand aside for him...







    This whole situation does all sound rather murky though - hardly shows the Conservative party in a good light, but as I say I wouldn't vote for them so maybe I'm not the best judge.

    Recommend?   Yes 19     No 8

  • S CA R
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    Jul 28, 17:33
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    Seen one, seen 'em all. How about a big pyre, plenty of gasoline and one match?

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 24

  • Chris
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    Aug 8, 15:20
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    Well, as they say, you can't keep a good Dickie down eh!

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0