THREE Andover Alliance councillors have been hit with party suspensions, after fellow members requested a formal investigation alleging ‘breaches of process and conduct’.

Test Valley borough Councillors David Coole and Christopher Ecclestone and Andover town Cllr Rebecca Meyer have been accused of bringing the party into disrepute over a number of issues.

On Wednesday the trio were informed of their suspensions by party leader Richard Rowles, who also sits on the borough council and is chairman of the town council.

In a statement, Cllr Richard Rowles said: “The actions of three Andover Alliance members have been called into question with respect to bringing the party into disrepute.

“Therefore, as leader of the party I am suspending their memberships pending investigation.”

“We will now follow due process as outlined in our constitution, a disciplinary panel will be called, and a fixed amount of time will be allowed for the Cllrs in question to put their case in writing defending against the charges, and for the panel to ask for more information from other members.”

The suspensions come after 10 party members signed a letter, between Wednesday and Friday last week, requesting an investigation over various issues constituting “conduct which has brought the party into disrepute.”.

In response to his suspension, Cllr Coole said he was “appalled” by his party leader’s behaviour and declared the suspension “null and void” before calling for an investigation into Cllr Rowles.

He said: “I am appalled by the party leader’s behaviour and his attempt to take total control of the party, Andover town council and the Andover Alliance political group on TVBC.

“It is a clear attempt to undermine the consensual nature of the party.

“The attempt to have us suspended is unlawful because there has been no reporting of nor investigation of any complaints against us, by the executive committee.

“It is also not lawful because the majority of members have not signed the petition.

“This attempt is therefore null and void and the matter will now be dealt with internally and there will be a move to have Cllr Rowles suspended pending further investigation.”

Cllr Meyer said the situation was “hogwash” and Cllr Ecclestone accused the party leader of “ego-tripping”, adding: “Unfortunately this is yet more ego-tripping on [Cllr Rowles’] part.

“It began shortly after the election with demands that he be made the candidate for the County Council by-election and then he escalated it to wanting to be the Parliamentary candidate.

“I have looked on in amazement at this descent into unreality on his part. I have better things to do than pander to a bloated ego.

“Doing yoga in shorts with the Mayoral chains may make him appear comical as the Idi Amin of Andover, however, I am not amused.

“He is currently circling the drain and the sooner he slips out of sight the better.

“I care about my constituents and Andover, but for Cllr Rowles I care not one fig.”

The news comes just over a month after party chiefs insisted there was “most definitely not” a split within the group, and less than two weeks after Cllrs Coole and Ecclestone motioned a vote of no confidence in Cllr Rowles’ leadership of the Andover Town Council Planning Committee.

The no confidence vote was one of the issues cited in the letter requesting a formal investigation, as was the forming and continuing of a separate notified group on Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), which essentially created two Andover Alliance groups on the authority.

The document calling for an investigation signed by party members also accused one councillor of ‘misrepresenting himself’ and ‘disclosing internal party discussions’.