A council leader and several of his closest allies have left the Conservatives this morning to start a new party. Gravesham’s Cllr David Turner announced the move at a press conference at Gravesend’s Civic Centre, in Windmill Street, at 10am. Alongside Cllr Turner, deputy John Knight and former Mayor Harold Craske and seven others will also leave to start the new party. They announced they were suspending their memberships just days after the Tories decided not to select them for next year’s election. Speaking to reporters this morning Cllr Turner, Knight and Craske said no reason was given for the decisions and that it had outraged fellow councillors and constituents. All the councillors will remain in their roles, with many sitting on the cabinet until the election but the decision does mean the Tories will no longer have overall control. It comes amid mounting tension over the prospect of building on the green belt. The administration had long insisted there is no option other than to release some of the highly sensitive land to make room for 2,000 additional homes which the government says are needed by 2028. Cllr Turner previously said there was no brownfield land available but has been accused of not exploring all options for urban development by a number of people, most recently Dartford council’s leader Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con). In November his deputy Cllr Leslie Hills stepped down in protest against the stance. Now the Gravesham Independent Conservatives will contest next May’s election.