THE Lib Dem group of Fareham Borough Council has taken another major knock after losing its third councillor in a year.
Councillor Jack Englefield, who represents Titchfield Common, has told his group he is going independent as he is ‘disillusioned’ with party politics.
It comes as veteran councillor Peter Davies went independent last May, shortly after being re-elected, and then switched allegiance to the Conservative group.
And last month newcomer Cllr Nick Gregory, who won a by-election in Fareham West for the Lib Dems, switched to the Tories within weeks of his victory.
It leaves the Lib Dem group with just seven seats to the Tory majority of 23.
Cllr Englefield said: ‘I feel really let down, not with my local group, but with the way national party politics has been going lately.
‘I’m so disillusioned. For me to leave my group here in Fareham was a very difficult thing to do.’
He says the direction of the Lib Dem movement since joining the coalition government had disappointed him.
Cllr Englefield has been a borough councillor since 1994 and won his last term in 2010 with a majority of more than 1,200. He added: ‘I love my job and I will stand at the next election as an independent.’
Cllr Jim Forrest, who was recently elected leader of the Lib Dem group, hoped he would return, adding: ‘We have all experienced the same difficulties that Jack has faced, in working as councillors at a time when many decisions of the coalition government are deeply unpopular with sections of the public we serve.
‘But we believe that as members of a party in government, we can best serve residents of Fareham by passing on their concerns to Liberal Democrat ministers and urging them to ensure that the most vulnerable people are shielded as far as possible from the worst effects of Britain’s financial problems.’