Row develops after Peterborough city councillor dramatically quits

Cllr Nick Sandford and Cllr Julia Davidson
Cllr Nick Sandford and Cllr Julia Davidson
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A senior Liberal Democrat has called on his former colleague to call a by-election or lose credibility after she dramatically quit the party.

Cllr Nick Sandford, leader of the Lib Dem group on Peterborough City Council, also accused Cllr Julia Davidson of owing the party a “substantial” amount of money and of having “a bit of an inflated view of her own importance.”

Cllr Julia Davidson and Cllr Darren Fower

Cllr Julia Davidson and Cllr Darren Fower

Cllr Davidson said she had withheld payments for several reasons, adding that Cllr Sandford’s comments confirmed that leaving the Lib Dems to become an independent was the right decision.

Cllr Davidson announced her departure at a Full Council meeting after stating that her aims and beliefs no longer matched those of the Lib Dems nationally and locally.

It was also revealed at the meeting that fellow Gunthorpe member Cllr Darren Fower, who defected from the Lib Dems to Labour last September, would also now sit as an independent.

Cllr Fower, who previously said the Lib Dems had appeared to be a “Tory lite alternative,” later confirmed he was voted out by the constituency Labour Party but said he would continue to work hard for residents in his ward.

Cllr Sandford told the PT: “To maintain credibility they should resign and seek re-election. People vote for councillors as individuals but it’s partly as members of a party. ”

He described both as hard-working, but said he had referred to Cllr Fower at the time of his defection as “very much a loose cannon” who was “constantly antagonising people.”

On Cllr Davidson, he said the party had given her a lot of support, but that she was in “substantial arrears.” He added: “If she had not resigned it was by no means certain next year when the seat comes up that she would have been the candidate.”

Local Lib Dem chairman Christian Hogg said: “Liberal Democrats take pride in doing regular Focus newsletters and telling people what their councillors have been up to. This costs money.”

Cllr Davidson told the PT she had brought in money locally by securing newsletter advertising and by recruiting more new members “than all the other Lib Dem councillors put together.”

She added that she had not paid her monthly contributions due to the closure of a Norwich & Peterborough Building Society branch and because of a dispute over the amount to pay after “large amounts” of money were “wasted” locally at last year’s mayoral and general elections. She added: “Maybe I should have implemented a charge for the all the support I gave him in helping Nick Sandford retain his seat over the years.”