The leader of Kingston Council has been branded “Putin-esque” after warning a campaign group opposed to a planned 21-storey building in Kingston town centre not to “upset the people in power”.

Conservative Councillor Kevin Davis faced a Twitter backlash this week after suggesting the Kingston Residents’ Alliance was a Liberal Democrat “Trojan horse”, following a demonstration by the group on Saturday against plans to build a high rise block of flats at the old Post Office site in Ashdown Road.

The protest was attended by Kingston and Surbiton’s Lib Dem MP Edward Davey, as well as children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson.

But in a series of tweets to the alliance’s Twitter account @KingstonSkyline Coun Davis said the campaign was “politically motivated”.

He then said: “I am listening and happy to talk any time, but [the] lesson of campaigning number one is don’t upset the people in power.” 



Angry campaigners responded to the post, with Coun Davis labelled a “trumped up toytown dictator” by anonymous Lib Dem campaigner @ShamrockSoup.

Richard Bailey said: “The great dictator @kevinjdavis demands total obedience from the Caliphate of Kingston.”

And Jeremy Barnes said: “Don’t upset people in power? Did you really think before you said that? Almost Putin-esque!”

Coun Davis later tweeted: “If Kingston Residents’ Alliance is Trojan horse for Lib Dem general election campaign then we at least now know where we stand.”

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Kingston Residents Alliance with MP Edward Davey and Dame Jaqueline Wilson during the demonstration 

Kingston Residents’ Alliance describes itself on its website as having “no political alliance nor special interest in Kingston other than to support our council in making the best possible decisions for our town’s future”.

Affiliate groups include Riverside Residents’ Association, Mill Street Residents’ Association and the Friends of Kingston Museum.

Mill Street Residents’ Association chairwoman Tessa Kind, who stood for the Labour Party in May’s local election, said: “The whole reason we set up the alliance was because we did not want to join a political campaign and alienate people. Everyone was invited on Facebook we were not going to turn anyone away.

“There were people there from different parties who all supported the same cause.

“But to say don’t upset the people in power is a really idiotic thing.”

Speaking to the Surrey Comet Coun Davis said: “They say they are non-political. I kept away on purpose because it was non-political.

"For me they are a front for Ed Davey – don’t upset people and don’t lie to them.”

But he added upsetting him did not affect his decisions and that his tweet should be read “within context”.

Developers St George has promised to continue to engage with residents over the old Post Office proposals, despite the public consultation closing in January.