SENIOR councillor and former mayor Peter Miller’s shock resignation from the Conservative Party sparked accusations of arrogance from former allies.

Councillor Miller made his dramatic announcement during a meeting of Brierley Hill’s Your Home Your Forum on Wednesday February 28.

He told the meeting he was changing his allegiance due his ‘disgust’ at the local Conservative association’s selection process for candidates in May’s local election.

Cllr Miller said: “I have been a life-long Conservative, I never thought I would have to say this, I will be standing as an independent in Kingswinford South.

“I was so disgusted at the behaviour of some members, the party has to change.” 

Members of the public shouted down complaints from councillors at the meeting that his speech was not appropriate for a community forum and urged Cllr Miller to continue.

Cllr Miller said he felt prospective Tory candidate Michelle Hammond had been treated badly after she was not selected by the local association.

Dudley Council leader, Councillor Patrick Harley, who represents the same Kingswinford South ward as Cllr Miller, said: “When you have got a long-serving candidate sometimes they think it is their right to bequeath the seat to who they see fit.

“That is not the case and they didn’t go for Pete’s preferred candidate.” 

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Miller also claimed he was told he was too old to be a councillor and turned his fire on the current Conservative administration, blaming problems on the Tories’ large council majority.

He said: “We got people elected who should never have been within a million miles of the council house, Labour had the same problem in the late 90s.

“They just don’t seem to understand, they won’t listen, one of them said ‘I’ll let you know how to deal with that complaint’ when they had been a councillor for a year and I had been for 27 years.

“I feel very sad, I have done well as a councillor and I get on with most people but I despair with some of them.”

Cllr Harley says his former colleague had already told him he was going to stand down ahead of May’s local elections and dismissed the claim that Cllr Miller, aged 79, was told he was too old.

He said the association was concerned about Cllr Miller’s health.

Cllr Harley added: “If you want to talk about arrogance look no further than the person who gave that quote.

“It is wrong to criticise people like them – people who worked to get him elected, it’s very disappointing.”

Cllr Miller and Michelle Hammond have now joined the independent group which includes another former Tory mayor, Anne Millward, and both plan to stand in the coming elections.

With all 72 council seats up for grabs in May the result could be close between Labour and the Conservatives resulting in a hung council where independent councillors might hold the balance of power.

Cllr Miller said: “That is something they want to realise, it’s going to be close, they might need us.

“It could be interesting.”