Lib Dem quits after being ‘disillusioned’ with coalition

Penny Mordaunt

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A COUNCILLOR has defected from the Lib Dems after saying he was becoming ‘disillusioned’ with the coalition government.

Cllr Mervyn Bradley has quit the Gosport Lib Dem group to become an independent alongside Cllr Dave Smith.

It comes a year after husband-and-wife team, Bob and Ingeborg Forder, also quit the Gosport Lib Dems to form their own splinter group. At the time they blamed ‘fundamental differences’ with the Gosport Lib Dem group led by Councillor Peter Chegwyn.

Cllr Chegwyn said he and Cllr Bradley ‘remain good friends’ and that ‘they don’t have any issues.’

Speaking about his decision to become an independent, Cllr Bradley said: ‘I’m a bit disillusioned with the way the Liberal Democrats have gone in with the Conservatives. I don’t see things working out very well.

‘I thought to help the people of my ward I will become an independent.’

By forming an independent group of two with Cllr Dave Smith, it now means there are five different parties on the council, with 22 Tories, five Lib Dems, three Labour, and two on the Independent Lib Dem group.

It also means that as a party leader Cllr Smith – who has just finished a 12-month suspension after calling council officers ‘corrupt’ – is now entitled to a special responsibility allowance of £632.

This is on top of the councillor’s basic allowance of £5,630.

Cllr Chegwyn said: ‘I think the public will be amazed to see a councillor who has been suspended for a year is now receiving an extra allowance.

‘I would call on him to follow mine and Cllr Hook’s (Tory leader) example not to accept any increase in special responsibility allowance.’

When contacted by The News, Cllr Smith said: ‘You get extra paper work (as a group leader) and you have extra work to be done.

‘Financial reward was never part of my motivation.’

Council leader Mark Hook said leaders were ‘entitled to a special responsibility allowance because they are deemed to do additional duties’.

‘Cllr Smith is a leader in his own right now,’ he added.