Brentwood Lib Dem councillor quits to join Tories

A Liberal Democrat councillor has quit his party and joined the Conservatives.

Brentwood West’s Nigel Clarke said he disagreed with the way his former group acted on local issues.

Cllr Clarke held a press conference with Brentwood MP Eric Pickles and Conservative group leader Cllr Louise McKinlay this morning (Friday) to announce the move.

The meeting came at the same time as his resignation letter was supposed to be delivered to LibDem leader Cllr David Kendall, although Cllr Kendall said he is yet to see it.

In his letter Cllr Clarke said: “I have found that the Liberal Democrats are too keen to oppose for opposition’s sake, rather than work for the good of Brentwood and its residents.”

He has been a ward councillor since 2010, when he tied with the Conservative candidate and was awarded victory after his name was drawn from a hat.

The councillor, who is a salon owner, told the meeting that he’s not a political person and didn’t understand why national issues were of any consequence when deciding which party he belonged to.

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“I just feel I can help my residents more working with the Conservative Party. I’m very impressed being a trader in town how it has improved,” he said.

He added that car parking policy and the William Hunter Way development were two of the key issues which he felt he agreed with the Conservatives more than his former colleagues on.

Brentwood and Ongar MP Eric Pickles said: “I hope the Liberal Democrats will take this on board and come up with a new approach to their opposition on the council.”

The Communities Secretary also alleged that there is another Lib Dem councillor who has made contact with the Tories about being unhappy with their party.

Lib Dem leader Cllr David Kendall later told the Recorder: “I don’t accept that we oppose things for opposition’s sake for one minute.

“We have supported the administration on the parking review and are working with them on the Town Hall.

“But we’re not just going to roll over with our paws in the air on important issues. If we hadn’t asked the questions about the council’s accounts not being signed off, no one would.”

He added that he has seen no evidence of the other unhappy councillor as alleged by Mr Pickles.

The composition of the council is now Conservative 29, Lib Dem 6, Labour 1, Independent 1.

More on this story to follow.