Senior Wolverhampton Tory deselected by party ahead of next year's elections
The deputy leader of Wolverhampton’s Conservatives is set to lose his seat after being deselected.
Councillor Simon Bennett, who has represented the Merry Hill ward since 2018, has been one of the city’s most prominent Tory figues, also working as constituency assistant to Stuart Anderson, Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West.
But member of his own local branch have revolted against him – and decided that they wanted him gone.
It’s not known why the local branch of the party have turned against their councillor. Mr Bennett said he’d be seeking re-election in another city ward.
Fellow Merry Hill councillor Wendy Dalton said the branch would be putting forward party member James Montero to stand in place of councillor Bennett in the ward at the 2022 local elections.
councillor Bennett said this week: “Each ward has its own selection meetings and this decision has been made. It’s a ward-based decision – it’s happened and it is what it is.
“I have the full support of my colleagues and the group are fully behind me. I will remain as deputy leader of the Conservatives and see this decision as opening up a lot of new opportunities for me.
“There are plenty of things happening in Wolverhampton and this allows me to pursue these opportunities and seek selection in another suitable ward.”
councillor Dalton added: “Simon is a very experienced and seasoned councillor who has really helped establish Merry Hill and turn it blue.
“Really, what it comes down to is the fact that we’re having a bit of a shuffle round. Simon has a great set of skills and is a real asset to the group.
“Strategically we’d like him on the other side of the city leading the charge over there. We’re looking to spread ourselves as wide as possible at the next elections,” she added.
Conservative group leader, councillor Wendy Thompson said: “I don’t comment on ward matters. councillor Bennett has always been – and remains – a very valued member of our united party in Wolverhampton.”
Leader of the council, councillor Ian Brookfield said: “It’s highly unusual for a deputy leader of a party to be deselected by his colleagues.
“No doubt the reason behind this rejection will soon become public knowledge, which I’m sure will be a further blow to the city Tories.”
councillor Dr Paul Birch said he put the decision down to inner-turmoil within the Conservative group in Merry Hill.
“With inflation rising above four per cent we are clearly heading for another miserable Christmas. Isn’t it the truth the Conservatives have just run out of ideas, have no one else to blame and now they are turning on themselves?
“Rather than playing politics, the people of Wolverhampton have serious questions to ask – like why is the metro closed for a month; why isn’t Wolverhampton benefiting from HS2 and why can’t the Conservatives be truthful about how Brexit is hurting business and exporters and creating shortages of food?” he added.