Graham Chrystie, a Pyrford councillor on Woking Council for eight years, has left the Conservative party and joined the Liberal Democrats.
This brings the Liberal Democrats, the largest opposition group, to nine councillors and puts Woking Council into no overall control, with equal numbers of opposition and Conservative councillors.
On switching* parties, Cllr Chrystie said:
The Conservative Party in Woking is failing on openness, proper consultation and financial disclosure.
The Leader of the Council, who has his main residence in Scotland, has curtailed debate within the Conservative group and has proceeded with projects which too often lack transparency.
Residents have not been properly consulted on key decisions such as plans for a Pub/Restaurant on West Byfleet Recreation Ground, a site held by the Borough only as a Trustee for local residents.
I cannot in conscience remain a member of the Conservative Group.
I now feel I can work more effectively for my ward residents and deliver what local people want, within the Liberal Democrat Group, where I can operate within an established, harmonious and effective team.
Welcoming Cllr Chrystie to the Liberal Democrat Group, Leader Cllr Ann-Marie Barker said:
Graham is an excellent councillor for Pyrford. He makes a huge contribution to the Council, planning committee in all aspects, overview and scrutiny committee and financial scrutiny together with the Joint Committee between the Borough and County Council. Beyond the council, he has been a representative on Voluntary Services and Community Transport, where he has worked closely with my deputy Cllr Deborah Hughes. Graham will be a fantastic addition to the Liberal Democrat group, bringing his finance and planning knowledge and his experience with neighbourhood forums.
* Yes, rule 2(b) applies.