Local Tory party members urged to oust Yeo

Ms Tim Yeo, David Ruffley and Therese Coffey with Chancellor George Osborne as they meet to try and stop the tolling of the A14
Ms Tim Yeo, David Ruffley and Therese Coffey with Chancellor George Osborne as they meet to try and stop the tolling of the A14

Members of the Conservative party have been urged not to support South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo and go for a candidate who will spend more time in their constituency.

As ballot papers were sent out to members on Monday asking them to decide whether to deselect Mr Yeo, Sudbury businessman Simon Barrett, from the South Suffolk Conservative Association, said it was time for a change.

“It is time for somebody new,” said Mr Barrett, who runs Barrett-Lee garage on Chilton Industrial Estate in Sudbury.

“The feedback from the majority of members it that 30 years in the post is enough, although he still has a few diehard supporters.

Mr Barrett was among the association’s executive committee which voted to deselect Mr Yeo during a secret ballot in November.

However the 68-year-old chose to ask for a ballot of party members, which will see him become a candidate for the next general election in 2015, if the count is in his favour.

Mr Barrett said Mr Yeo should have taken the opportunity to retire “gracefully”.

“We wanted him to accept it and the majority of the executive need to follow through on what they feel,” he said.

“He has not done enough and there needs to be a candidate that we are happy to represent us.”

Mr Yeo has drawn the backing of a number of high profile politicians, including Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, but has often been dogged by accusations of government rule breaking.

Last year following an undercover investigation by a national newspaper he was alleged to have breached lobbying guidelines. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Earlier this month there were also claims that he spent too much time away from his constituents and used his position to earn more than £130,000 in a year chairing company board meetings.

Mr Barrett said the fact Mr Yeo lived in Sandwich, Kent, and had been linked to misdemeanours, had resulted in many party members becoming fed up with him.

“People are decent and tolerant in Sudbury, but Mr Yeo’s colourful private life has often stretched that to the limit,” he said.

“While too busy to spend more time in his constituency, he found time to write glossy golfing press reports describing exotic trips around the globe and time to accumulate lucrative directorships in environmental companies.”

Mr Yeo has said he did not want to retire from his position as an MP and awaits the outcome of the ballot, due in early February, with interest.

“I look forward to the result of the ballot,” he said.