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Worcestershire Conservatives suspend councillor after fire service row
A LEADING Worcestershire politician has been suspended from his Conservative group - and today he could be expelled entirely.
Your Worcester News can reveal how Councillor Phil Grove has landed in serious trouble with his party after trying to prevent massive fire service cuts.
Last week Cllr Grove decided to break ranks from the Tory group at Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority and back the opposition Labour Party to inject an extra £500,000 into the service.
His decision led to a crunch budget amendment being passed by 11 votes to 10, to delay a decision to make £4 million of fire service cuts until June using the cash.
Last Wednesday, if the cuts were passed Worcester would have lost one of two full-time fire engines.
Sources close to the row say Cllr Grove was told before the meeting that he must back the cuts, and was warned to avoid breaking ranks by his party.
After his decision he was stopped from re-entering the Conservative room at Worcestershire County Council, where the meeting took place, and immediately suspended.
The group is meeting today and will consider expelling him.
One source said: "After the meeting ended he tried to get back into the room and he was told not to enter, he was kicked out right there.
"He told them (the Conservatives) of his intentions before the meeting and they said ' in you vote in that way, you won't be coming back'.
"He's been seen walking around County Hall looking lost."
Cllr Grove, who was first elected to County Hall last year, is also a member of Malvern Hills District Council, where he used to be the leader between 2009-2012.
One of the county's most experienced politicians, he is currently Malvern's economic development chief.
He said: "I'm dealing with this through the party and at this time I've got no comment to make."
If he is kicked out of Worcestershire County Council's Conservative group permanently, it means he will immediately become affiliated to no party at County Hall.
It is not expected to impact on his position in Malvern.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader of the Conservatives at the county council, refused to comment yesterday.
But Councillor Richard Udall, from the Labour Party, said: "I'd like to thank Cllr Grove for his brave actions and conduct."