Rochdale councillor Kathleen Nickson (Balderstone and Kirkholt ward) has joined the Liberal Democrats from Labour.
Councillor Nickson, who won 52% of the vote in her ward in last May’s council elections, cited alleged bullying and aggression as the reason for her switch of parties:
I simply could not go working in an undemocratic manner. I was being told how to vote, being threatened and effectively blocked from being able to do my job an elected member in the Labour Party. The Lib Dem councillors have always acted with courtesy and professionalism whilst still getting their point across. I believe I will be able to work with integrity and where I will be valued as hard working female councillor. The way in which the Lib Dem group are treated in the chamber by some members tells you all you need to know about how senior Labour councillors think it is OK to treat difference.
There is no room to have a difference of opinion in the Labour group. I will not simply be told what to do, what to say and how to vote. I want to do the best for the residents in my ward and I simply do not believe that Labour allow me to do that. I will be joining a team of hard-working Lib Dem councillors who work in the best interest of the people of Rochdale.
Councillor Andy Kelly, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Rochdale Council, responded saying,
Councillor Nickson has thought deeply before reaching this decision and we both welcome her to the party and commit to supporting her important work for the residents of Balderstone and Kirkholt. The Lib Dems are a broad party and would welcome discussions with any other councillors who may be considering following her lead.