A Kingston Liberal Democrat councillor has resigned barely 100 days into the administration, claiming the leadership’s attitude to new councillors is “bad for democracy”.
Councillor Sharron Sumner, who was elected for the first time this May, made it clear she is still in the party and supports Kingston and Surbiton MP Sir Ed Davey, and will now act as an “independent Lib Dem”.
She said: “After 100 days it is clear there is a lack of vision at the top of the administration.
“Manifesto and other commitments have been junked in favour of uninspiring, bureaucratic, more of the same. It’s as if [Conservative former leader of the council] Kevin Davis is still in charge.”
She said she felt particularly upset by what she called “broken promises” regarding the closure of the Murray House residential care home and repayment of unfair fines arising from the Surbiton Crescent traffic restrictions.
She said: “I know some of my fellow Lib Dem councillors will be let down by my decision, which hasn’t been easy, but I can’t sit back and see all the goodwill the Lib Dems had from local voters be frittered away without making a stand.
“There is huge talent and experience among the 38-strong Lib Dem group – particularly among the 26 councillors elected for the first time in May.
“But the old heads remain in charge, and this talent and creativity isn’t being used properly – instead the officers appear to be in charge. And that’s bad for democracy.”
The Alexandra ward councillor also said she can represent her residents better outside of the group, particularly on issues like 20mph speed limits in residential areas, involving the community in the Tolworth Area Plan, and cutting air pollution.
Leader of the council Liz Green said: “It has been clear for some time that Sharron has been struggling with being part of an administration group at Kingston Council . She clearly feels her ideas have not been followed through, while the opposite is true.
“Several of her ideas were incorporated in our manifesto and we are taking action on these already, like anti-idling campaigns outside schools, reduced resident permit charges for electric and hybrid cars and implementing 20mph across the borough.
“Running a council with the financial difficulties that Kingston Council faces is never going to be easy, and there are no quick fixes to perennial problems like air quality, adult social care and special education needs.
“The new administration is tackling problems left over from four years of Conservative mismanagement, to put us on a firm footing for the future.
“It is a shame that she has felt it necessary to leave the Liberal Democrat group administration and not be part of our exciting plans going forward to improve services for residents.
“I am immensely proud of our victory and thank the residents for the trust they have put in us. We have many talented new Liberal Democrat councillors that took their seats in May 2018 and working together with residents, businesses and partners we will make Kingston better together.”