Labour councillor voted out of party and Liberal Democrat quits in surprise twist at Peterborough City Council meeting

Councillors representing Labour and the Liberal Democrats at Peterborough City Council have left the parties and are now sitting as independents.

Thursday, 25th January 2018, 1:38 am
Updated Thursday, 25th January 2018, 6:07 am
Cllr Julia Davidson and Cllr Darren Fower

The departures of Cllr Darren Fower - who was part of the Labour group after defecting from the Lib Dems last September - and Cllr Julia Davidson - a Lib Dem member - were unexpectedly announced at the start of Wednesday night's Full Council meeting at the Town Hall.

Cllr Fower said he was voted out by the constituency Labour Party in Peterborough by one vote, while Cllr Davidson said her aims and beliefs no longer matched those of the Lib Dems "nationally and locally."

Both councillors represent the ward of Gunthorpe and spent the meeting sat next to each other, away from their former colleagues.

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Cllrs Davidson and Fower sitting next to each other as independents during the meeting

Cllr Fower's departure from Labour, which the party's group leader Cllr Ed Murphy had previously confirmed to the Peterborough Telegraph, was announced by Mayor of Peterborough Cllr John Fox at the start of the meeting last night (Wednesday, January 24).

Cllr Davidson then stood up to tell members: "For me, being a councillor is about community and people, and that gave me great pride and satisfaction.

"Sadly my aims and beliefs are no longer conducive to those of the Liberal Democrats locally and nationally.

"Therefore, I shall be continuing as an independent councillor providing a strong voice on behalf of the community and striving for greater fairness and greater democracy throughout the city."

Cllrs Davidson and Fower sitting next to each other as independents during the meeting

Cllr Davidson told the PT after the meeting: "I'm looking forward to representing Gunthorpe ward as independent councillor. I will be committed and will hopefully continue to represent them effectively in a way they would like to see a local councillor representing them."

Cllr Fower, a former Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, told the PT when he left the party in September that they had appeared to be a "Tory lite alternative."

After defecting to Labour he was then accepted onto the party's group on the council. However, he has now been rejected by the Constituency Labour Party, meaning he has lost the whip.

Cllr Fower told the PT he "respects democracy" when asked about the party's decision to vote him out.

He added: "Myself and Cllr Julia Davidson have a proven track record of working hard and we will continue to do so.

"We no longer have to worry about shackles and chains placed upon us by the Peterborough Liberal Democrats."

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Nick Sandford said during the meeting that Cllr Davidson should now stand for re-election after leaving the party. Asked after the meeting for his thoughts on her decision to leave the party whip, he said he had nothing further to add.

There are 60 councillors at Peterborough City Council, with the ruling Conservatives holding 30 seats.

Labour now has 15 seats and the Lib Dems five seats.

There are also three Liberal Party councillors, three Werrington First councillors and two UKIP councillors.