Cllr Jeff Bray is a member of Tendring District Council.
My recent move to the Conservative Party would probably not be a great surprise to those who know me well.
I was after all, a Conservative county council candidate in 2001 and have always held very traditional conservative British values. The despair of the Labour Government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and the resulting rapid economic and social disaster led me to step back from politics for several years. That coupled with my desire to fully enjoy my children’s teenage years and the need to earn a living, took me away from the political arena almost completely.
But I never, however, lost the internal fire, that I suspect exists inside all politically minded people, to fight for the things I truly believe in.
I must give my personal credit to UKIP, and particularly the fight to leave the European Union, for rekindling the embers of my political desire. I make no secret of the fact that I am a steadfast Brexiteer, who believes we cannot exit quickly enough what I see as the dictatorial, ethically questionable, morally bankrupt quango, known as the European Union.
Having been elected to our district council in May 2015 on a UKIP ticket, I believe I have proved myself as a worthy spokesman and advocate for both my Ward and my wider District. Despite little useful support from my then Group, I have during the last two years, both individually and collectively with my colleague Richard Everett, raised and won arguments and debates that have positively impacted the local area. This has been done through reasoned and sensible debate, and in spite of our minority position.
I have influenced the all important Local Plan, to make it fairer and less intrusive for our local people, pushed hard (and successfully) to persuade the Council to accept a working five year housing supply and delivered greater transparency for the council through a motion to make the audio of all planning related council meetings available anytime online. In addition I am the second most regular speaker at full council meetings, with only the Leader of the Council speaking more often.
While I am deeply proud to have achieved the above, I am also fully aware that I could not have hoped to do so without the cooperation and tolerance of the Conservative-led administration. With Brexit underway, albeit more slowly than I would like, and with UKIP in freefall, the time has come for me to bring my talents, such as they are, back home. It is clear what my values are and where those values are shared. I want to be part of a party that leads, but does not dictate, looks forward, but does not ignore the lessons of history – and fights, but does not wage unnecessary war. That is why I am once again a Conservative.
I look forward to working with you all.