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Fresh hammer blow for Tories at Cambridgeshire County Council as another councillor quits party

‘Ryan Fuller was elected as a Conservative – by people who thought they were voting for a Conservative’

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Cambridgeshire county councillor, Ryan Fuller, has left the Conservative group leaving opposition leader Steve Count facing even a higher mountain to climb ahead of local elections in 2025.

Last year Cllr Count lost county councillor Douglas Dew to the Lib Dems after the Hemingfords and Fenstanton member blamed Liz Truss “for car crashing the economy” and for him it was “the last straw”.

Cllr Count also lost Cllr Josh Schumann, who represents Burwell, when he firstly quit the Conservative group on East Cambridgeshire District Council where he had been deputy leader, to sit as an independent at New Shire Hall.

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Flashback to 2020 and a meeting at the Ministry of Defence arranged by Jonathan Djanogly MP (left) with NW Cambs MP Shailesh Vara, and then executive leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, Cllr Ryan Fuller. Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace MP (second left) discussed the future of Wyton airfield.

Flashback to 2020 and a meeting at the Ministry of Defence arranged by Jonathan Djanogly MP (left) with NW Cambs MP Shailesh Vara, and then executive leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, Cllr Ryan Fuller. Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace MP (second left) discussed the future of Wyton airfield.

Now, less than 2 years after claiming that ‘independent candidates have NO plan and NO ideas for St Ives; it is opposition for opposition’s sake’ Cllr Ryan Fuller – a former leader of Huntingdonshire District Council – will see out his term as a county councillor as an independent.

Cllr Fuller has been the Conservative county councillor for St Ives North & Wyton – a seat he retained in 2021 – but after a tumultuous 12 months he has resigned from the Conservative group at Shire Hall.

Cllr Ian Gardener, chairman of the Huntingdon Conservative Constituency Association (HCCA), said: “While we regret this decision, we understand Ryan’s reasons for making it.

“We will refrain from commenting at this time on the factors that led Cllr Fuller to this position, as we respect his privacy.

“As chairman of HCCA, I take pride in the dedication and hard work exhibited by our active councillors in our constituency.”

Cllr Stephen Ferguson, also a Huntingdonshire county councillor and also an independent (he represents St Neots East and Gransden), believes Cllr Count needs to explain why Cllr Fuller has left his group.

“Ryan was elected as a Conservative – by people who thought they were voting for a Conservative – the electorate deserves an explanation,” says Cllr Ferguson.

Cllr Ryan Fuller (glasses) watching the counting at St Ives leisure centre. He lost his seat on Huntingdonshire District Council. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Cllr Ryan Fuller (glasses) watching the count at St Ives leisure centre. He lost his seat on Huntingdonshire District Council. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Posting to X (formerly Twitter) he adds: “Another great illustration that the Conservative Party is a cult, in which members are sworn to a vow of Omertà that forbids them from criticising other members of the cult, no matter how badly they behave.”

As CambsNews has previously reported, on September 27, 2022, Cambridgeshire county councillor Ryan Fuller did an unusual thing – which went unnoticed at the time by colleagues.

But it did involve the monitoring officer of the county council who received, and acknowledged, a review entry for Cllr Fuller in his statutory ‘register of interests’ declaration.

Wifi coming to town celebrations. Cllr Ryan Fuller with Conservative colleagues including then Mayor James Palmer

Wifi coming to town celebrations. Cllr Ryan Fuller with Conservative colleagues including then Mayor James Palmer

And whilst not breaking any law (indeed the council confirmed it is 100 per cent compliant), Cllr Fuller wiped the slate clean.

He removed his address – and left the entry blank.

He removed any employment – and left the entry blank.

The law requires all parish, district, and county councillors to declare “any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain, which you, or your spouse or civil partner, undertakes”.

Declaration of interest in respect of where Cllr Fuller lives has been left blank

Cllr Fuller’s updated revision (he had previously declared details in forms submitted on May 28th, 2021, and as recently as June 13, 2022). But no more.

Councillor Ryan Fuller met up with representatives from the UK’s largest broadband network – used by customers of the likes of BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen - to find out more about their multi-million pound full fibre build, which St Neots (2020) and Ramsey (2021) are already a part of.

Councillor Ryan Fuller met up with representatives from the UK’s largest broadband network – used by customers of the likes of BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen – to find out more about their multi-million pound full fibre build, which St Neots (2020) and Ramsey (2021) are already a part of.

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The law is specific, and Cllr Ryan is following it to the letter, typing his signature on the declaration of interest form rather than, as most do, scrawling a signature.

“There is no legal requirement for the personal signatures of councillors to be published online,” says the 11-page guide provided by the Government.

It also notes that “if you cease to have an interest, that interest can be removed from the register”.

A year ago, Cllr Fuller says he is going nowhere and told me that “I appreciate your concern but please be assured that I will be home again soon.”

 

Blank: The register of interests signed by Cllr Ryan Fuller at Cambridgeshire County Council. It is perfectly legal

Blank: The register of interests signed by Cllr Ryan Fuller at Cambridgeshire County Council. It is perfectly legal

Via email, he wrote: “I am currently visiting family and friends abroad, something I regularly do over the Christmas/New Year period each year.

“Never before though has any reasonable person suggested that this amounts to emigrating abroad.”

Attempts to speak to Cllr Fuller had been challenging. His last landline number on public record is no longer in service.

He accused me of choosing to “amplify and embellish a smear concocted by my political opponents prior to last year’s elections, where residents were repeatedly falsely told that I no longer lived locally.

“I’ve heard variations of that smear ever since”.

Prior to that to the 2022 Huntingdonshire council election Cllr Fuller listed his occupation as Senior Parliamentary Researcher to Jonathan Djanogly MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA and with a home in Sarah Grace Court, New Road, St Ives.

When he officially left that role is unclear, but it possibly didn’t help that after losing his St Ives West seat to Independent Julie Kerr he fled the count early – even before Mr Djanogly had arrived.

The MP visited the election count at the One Leisure Centre, in St Ives, on the day of the count and said Cllr Fuller had been a “remarkable leader” and said he had been “extremely surprised” to hear he had lost his seat.

“He has provided such great leadership,” said the MP.

The end of his time at Huntingdonshire District Council also meant the end of his time as the representative on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Jonathan Djanogly MP, One Leisure, St Ives Friday 06 May 2022. By this stage Cllr Fuller had left the count Picture by Terry Harris.

Prior to the elections he had been one of the ‘gang of five’ calling for Mayor Dr Nik Johnson to resign or step aside in the wake of bullying and accounting allegations.

Trouble for the mayor had been brewing for some time and an investigation had begun in October 2021.

That was the moment an anonymous whistleblowing complaint was made to Cllr Fuller, then a full member of the Combined Authority Board.

Since then, outcomes of the investigation have led to a massive overhaul of the Combined Authority that has brought in new ways of working and shaping future strategy.

 

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