Row breaks out after councillor switches parties

Geoff Fazackarley
Geoff Fazackarley

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CALLS have been made for a councillor to resign and fight for his ward seat at a by-election under his new party’s colours after he switched allegiance.

But councillor Geoff Fazackarley, who recently switched from Lib Dem to Conservative, has defended his position and called for the Lib Dem leader to resign instead.

Cllr Fazackarley, who represents Portchester East on Fareham Borough Council, said he had no other choice but to join the Tories after the Lib Dem leader Paul Whittle took a job in Saudi Arabia.

He said: ‘The actual long and short of it is that it’s councillor Whittle’s fault, no one else’s. They are all trying to push the emphasis on to me. They all think the Lib Dems will crumble and they probably will.’

Cllr Fazackarley questioned Cllr Whittle’s ability to do his job remotely and he criticised the lack of support given to each other from fellow Lib Dem councillors.

Cllr Whittle said he fulfils his role as Fareham East ward councillor and Lib Dem leader despite his foreign job as he works remotely.

He said Cllr Fazackarley should be the one to resign as he had let down residents in his ward.

Cllr Whittle said: ‘As the councillor of Portchester East, where residents are very strongly Lib Dem, he should do the honourable thing and resign.’

Other parties also called for Cllr Fazackarley to resign.

Fareham Labour party spokesman Richard Ryan said: ‘Cllr Fazackarley should, but I suspect won’t, resign and fight a by-election.

‘There’s been a stream of councillors swapping parties. None of them seems to know the meaning of the word principle. Cllr Fazackarley should resign now.’

Ukip also joined in the debate, county councillor Chris Wood said: ‘Cllr Fazackarley should resign and force a by-election for his residents to confirm their support for his decision to switch parties.’

Ukip’s spokesman for Portchester Tom Davies said: ‘It is only fair that he gives the residents of his ward a chance to voice their opinion in the form of a vote.

‘Any party switch should always be accompanied by a by-election.’

Tory leader Sean Woodward stood by Cllr Fazackarley and said ward seats were often won by the person, not just the party, and that a by-election had never taken place when councillors had switched in Fareham before.