Lib Dems for Chippenham and Malmesbury resign to act as independents
Two Wiltshire councillors have resigned as Liberal Democrats to become independent.
Coun Simon Killane resigned from the party a week after he narrowly missed out on being selected as its parliamentary candidate for North Wiltshire.
Coun Chris Caswill, who has been a member and supporter of the Liberals and then Liberal Democrats for nearly 50 years, said he was dismayed at the choice of Monkton Park for a skate park in Chippenham and was disillusioned by the support by Lib Dem MPs, including the town’s MP Duncan Hames, of certain policies in Parliament.
Coun Killane, a Malmesbury town and Wiltshire councillor, was told on October 11 he had not been selected to represent the Liberal Democrats as prospective parliamentary candidate for North Wiltshire, a seat held by Tory James Gray, in the next general election.
Coun Killane was beaten by aid worker Dr Brian Matthews from Yatton Keynell.
Coun Killane said: “I lost by three points. It’s not sour grapes but I did have to ask myself ‘what am I doing here?’ The candidacy was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Coun Killane is chairman of Wiltshire Council’s scrutiny committee and said he had “never really felt comfortable with party politics”.
Coun Jon Hubbard, who leads Wiltshire Council’s Liberal Democrats, said: “I was very disappointed that, just days after failing to be selected, Coun Killane suddenly decided he no longer believed in party politics.
“Simon has sat as a Lib Dem on Wiltshire Council since 2009.”
Coun Caswill, who won Chippenham’s Monkton ward with a majority of 817 in the Wiltshire Council elections, this year, has also resigned as vice-chair of Chippenham Area Board after it voted to submit a planning application for a skate park in Monkton Park.
He said he decided to leave after four Lib Dem councillors in Chippenham voted with the Conservatives to “impose a skateboard facility on the beautiful and tranquil Monkton Park, against the wishes of the vast majority of the community”.
Coun Caswill said he had been shocked by the support of the Lib Dem party for, among other things, “the privatisation of the NHS, for secret courts and the destruction of legal aid and judicial review and for the demonisation of the poor”.
Coun Hubbard said he disagreed with this assessment of the coalition but understood Coun Caswill’s reasons for not renewing his membership of the party. The Lib Dems remain the largest opposition group on Wiltshire Council.
Mr Hames said he had written to Coun Caswill to thank him for his years of public service.
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