THE FORMER leader of Malvern Hills District Council said he was ‘absolutely convinced’ the planning controversy surrounding his name was why he was ousted.
Conservative candidate David Hughes, who had been a councillor since 2007, polled fourth out of five in the Alfrick and Leigh ward, with Independents Coun Sarah Rouse and Coun Anthony Warburton being elected.
Mr Hughes had led the council for three years but became subject of a police investigation earlier this year – for which he was cleared of any wrongdoing – following allegations made about a proposed development at Blue Shot Meadow.
Residents believed Mr Hughes should have declared an interest when it came before the planning committee because the developer, Greenlight, was also being used for a proposed build on his land.
When asked by The Observer if that had played a key role in his failure to get re-elected, Mr Hughes said: “I am absolutely convinced of it.
“Democracy is a funny thing, freedom is a funny thing and politics is a vicious business – or can be.
“I had a planning application put in which caused a lot of angst and I think unreasonably because it is a small development which affects very few people.
“It is a brownfield site and it has got no future as it is at the moment but there we go, that is people’s right to object.
“I have put a lot of my time and effort into the community of Alfrick and Leigh, I have been very much active in the community and I find it a bit disappointing a few people have turned their back on me.
“It has been a great honour serving the ward and a great privilege leading the council for three years, I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The Conservatives retained the administration at MHDC and Coun Melanie Baker, councillor for the Chase, said the party can still move forward despite the loss of their former leader.
“I don’t think it will damage us at all,” she said. “As a group we are very committed to what we are doing.
“David was a great leader and was a very dedicated councillor and it is unfortunate we have lost him.
“But because of that work and his leadership we can carry on and move forward.”
Coun Rouse added: “I am so pleased for Alfrick and for Leigh Sinton.
“Everyone has really supported me and it has been a real community effort to get where I am.
“In turn, I can now support the community and do what they want to do and be a voice for the residents.”
A decision on who will be the new leader of MHDC is expected to be announced at a full council meeting on Tuesday (May 19).