Prominent* Exmouth Conservative Councillor Brian Bailey has left the Conservative Party and switched to the Liberal Democrats.**
Councillor Bailey, who represents Exmouth’s Withycombe Raleigh ward on both Exmouth Town and East Devon District Council, has issued a statement making public his resignation from the Conservative Party nationally and from the Conservative groups on both councils.
His decision follows that of five councillors from both Labour and the Conservatives who switched to the Liberal Democrats last month (see 1, 2, 3 and 4). That contrasts with the minimal reports so far of local government switches to The Independent Group.
Brian Bailey explained:
I have become increasingly disenchanted with the actions of the current Conservative Government, not least the appalling treatment of the less fortunate by the uncaring introduction of the universal credit scheme. I have also long made clear that I cannot support an approach to policing which leaves a major town like Exmouth without a more significant local police presence.
Additionally, I have found myself at odds with Conservative policies locally, including over Exmouth seafront, where there has been lack of direction and poor communications.
Cllr Bailey has an interesting take on what someone should do when switching parties:
I shall complete my term as a councillor for Withycombe Raleigh sitting as an Independent. I do not think it would be right to switch to another party without first putting myself before the electorate.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Exmouth and East Devon Councils, Steve Gazzard, welcomed Brian Bailey’s announcement. He said:
I salute Brian’s brave decision. He is stepping away from power locally in order to be true to his principles. His enthusiasm, energy and experience will be a considerable asset to the Lib Dems.