CALLS have been made for a councillor who switched sides to step down and stand for re-election.
As reported in The News, Cllr Nick Gregory switched from the Liberal Democrats to the leading Conservative group at Fareham Borough Council.
He was only elected to represent Fareham West in a by-election last December, and campaigned strongly against the Strategic Development Area (SDA), which would see 7,000 new homes built in the north of Fareham.
Now, he is supporting the SDA and Lib Dem councillors are therefore suggesting he steps down, and lets the residents of his ward decide who should represent them.
Cllr Roger Price, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: ‘He fought an election campaign six months ago on a particular issue and now he has gone against that. It’s disgraceful.
‘Bearing in mind what he has done, he should fight a new election. He has let down all of the people in Fareham West.’
Deputy Lib Dem group leader Cllr Jim Forrest added that the residents will be disappointed.
‘They will be disgusted and feeling very let down,’ he said.
‘They voted for him as a Liberal Democrat. They certainly wouldn’t have been expecting him to jump ship just a few months after.
‘He has offered himself to the voters as a member of one party and has always offered himself as an opponent of the SDA and that he quoted as one of the reasons for his campaign, but then he had second thoughts on that.
‘That was a big issue of the campaign. A lot of people voted for us who wouldn’t normally, because of that issue.
‘If he feels that what he said was wrong then he should put it to his voters. I think it would be the honourable thing to do.’
But Cllr Gregory said he has no plans to step down.
‘I don’t think there’s a need,’ he said.
‘I don’t think the residents want it. I have had no comeback from any of the residents and if the Lib Dem councillors are being truthful, they would never have won this ward if it wasn’t for me standing as a councillor.
‘A lot of the votes I got wasn’t down to the party I was standing for, it was down to the person I am.’
Cllr Gregory added that he is hoping to persuade residents in his ward that the SDA is the best way forward for Fareham, in a bid to prevent further development across the borough from other applicants.
He said: ‘I would like to think that what I am going to help the council to do is get the message across because I don’t think the core strategy or the SDA has been delivered properly in a way that the residents can understand.’