A Conservative councillor in Wokingham has quit the party – the second one to do so within four months – claiming that “obsessive secrecy” forced him to make the move.
But instead of going independent, he has instead joined the Liberal Democrats.
Cllr Ian Pittock, who represents Finchampstead South, sensationally cross the council chamber at the end of the meeting, held on Thursday, March 23.
He follows Cllr Gary Cowan who resigned in November after the Council rejected the recommendations of the Independent Renumeration Panel.
And he becomes the second Liberal Democrat councillor to join the group in a month after Cllr Imogen Shepherd-DuBey won the Emmbrook seat from the Conservatives after a by-election there.
In quitting, Cllr Pittock indicated that the move had been coming.
“There is no secret in the fact that I have had many differences of opinion with my own Conservative Group for some time,” he told the council chamber at the end of a long evening which had included a debate on school funding.
“There are many good Members in the Conservative Group, however, they are required to adhere to the wishes of a clique that promotes unnecessary politicisation, obsessive secrecy, playing at consultations, side-lining backbenchers, restricting the number of Council meetings, lack of financial transparency and accountability and over use of patronage provided by the allowance system to name some.”
He continued: “In addition, colleagues who know me well will tell you that I have had increasing difficulty with the EU Referendum and the fall-out from this. The restricted franchise, totally ignoring the 48%, placing everything in the hands of the far-right wing of the party, ignoring that this is about the 30 to 40 years future of the young, not the old; Teressa May would do well to listen to Sir John Major on this aspect.
“As we learn more about the risks and likely downsides involved with a ‘hard Brexit’ or ‘Brexit at any cost’, this is increasingly making the Charge of the Light Brigade look like a sensible, well planned and executed operation. I can no longer support a Prime Minister nor her party that is taking this dogmatic approach.
“I am a progressive, a passionate progressive. I want change, but the type of change which I have come to understand, through time and trial, that the Conservatives are institutionally unable to provide since they continually pander to their own far-right interests.
“Therefore, with the greatest of personal respects to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and for some of my colleagues:
- with immediate effect, I have resigned from the Conservative Group.
- I have resigned from the Conservative Party.
- I have applied to join the Liberal Democrats.”
And on saying that, Cllr Pittock left his seat to go and join his new Liberal Democrat colleagues.
Wokingham Conservatives leader Cllr Keith Baker said: “He was clearly uncomfortable with the group. I wish him well.”