WEAK policies, a culture of bullying and a local leader who spends most of his time in Saudi Arabia are three of the reasons Geoff Fazackarley has given for quitting the Lib Dems.
The councillor, who represents Portchester East on Fareham Borough Council, said he had become so disheartened with the party he felt there was only one option – to join the ruling Tories.
Cllr Fazackarley, who was elected in 2012, said: ‘It does not matter what party you are in, it’s what’s best for the residents and at the moment the best deal is with the Conservatives.’
Cllr Fazackarley said he felt the Lib Dems – both locally and nationally – were in chaos and that public opinion of the party had been damaged by scandals such as Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock taking so long to quit after he admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable constituent.
He said: ‘You need to have something stable and the Lib Dems are not stable.’
He also said he did not agree with national party lines such as badger culling, the decriminalisation of drugs and the creation of more parish councils.
Cllr Fazackarley’s brother Jason is a former Portsmouth city councillor.
A long-term Labour member, he became an independent in 2008 and joined the Lib Dems in 2009.
Jason lost his Lib Dem seat in Nelson ward to Ukip’s Colin Galloway in May.
Geoff Fazackarley said he lost faith in the Fareham group when Paul Whittle took over from Jim Forrest as leader last year, and the atmosphere changed when Mr Forrest later lost his seat.
He said he felt there was no longer enough support given by the party and that he disagreed with Cllr Whittle working full-time in Saudi Arabia around his council responsibilities.
Cllr Fazackarley, who works full-time as a bus driver, said: ‘How can he sort problems out when he is not here?
‘The argument is that he is the most politically astute but how can he be an effective opposition and keep control of his councillors when he is not here?
‘I am just a working bloke who is trying to do something and I have seen something wrong. We all have a responsibilty and you have to draw a line somewhere.’
Cllr Whittle said that Cllr Fazackarley had not raised concerns to him. He said his job in Saudi Arabia had no impact on his council duties as he works remotely.
He added: ‘The residents voted for Cllr Fazackarley as a Lib Dem councillor and I know how strong the Lib Dem feeling is in Portchester. They are the ones who have been let down by this. He has done this without any warning and without any discussion with me. It implies that he will be better suited where he can follow the crowd and be told what to do.’
Warm welcome for ‘hard-working’ Geoff
TORY leader Sean Woodward has welcomed Geoff Fazackarley to the party.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘Geoff is a good, hard-working councillor and has a great public service ethos. He will be able to better deliver for the residents of Portchester as a member of the ruling group and we look forward to working with him.’
There are now 24 Tory councillors, four Lib Dems, two independents and one Ukip on Fareham council and committee seats will be reviewed on October 9.