Axed Tory accuses his own party of ageism

Frank Warby
Frank Warby
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A CONSERVATIVE councillor has accused his own party of age discrimination after it told him it needed ‘fresh blood’.

Frank Warby is the second Conservative councillor in Bury St Edmunds to hit out after being told he would not be re-selected to stand for Suffolk County Council next May.

The Bury Free Press last week reported how Cllr Stefan Oliver, who is 72, had not been chosen to defend his Tower division seat at the county council election.

Now Cllr Warby, who is 71, has also been told he will no longer be standing as the Moreton Hall candidate.

“I think it must be ageist,” he said. They just told me that they want fresh blood.

“I’m disappointed. People up on the estate and the rest of the town, they know me.

“I set up the youth club on Moreton Hall five years ago and have been involved with that ever since.

“In local politics often it is the person people vote for, not the party, unless it is a big backlash against something.

“I just feel it is a slap in the face.”

But Andrew Speed, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association said: “Frank Warby has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Morton Hall community , but past efforts are not an entitlement or guarantee of future nomination.

“Age was not an issue, the panel that decided upon the candidates for the Bury St Edmunds wards simply selected individuals who they thought would do the best job for the electorate in the future. “

Cllr Warby was elected as Moreton Hall and Eastgate division member on the county council in 2005.

He lost his seat four years later, by 970 votes to independent candidate Trevor Beckwith’s, 1,221 votes.

But Cllr Warby blames his defeat on the backlash against the Conservatives following the controversial vote to switch to two-tier education – and was looking forward to trying to win back the seat.

He also said the candidate who has taken his place is unknown on the estate.

“To put him up against Trevor Beckwith, who has been there 16 years as a councillor, I think is a bit short sighted,” he said.

Cllr Warby remains on St Edmundsbury Borough Council.