ONE of Doncaster’s most powerful councillors has sparked a political row by quitting the Liberal Democrats.
Patrick Wilson, who had been in charge of housing on Doncaster Council’s cabinet, has infuriated the party by becoming the third councillor to leave this year.
He has blamed both the national and local party for his decision to step down from the party and stand for the Town Moor ward next month as an independent councillor.
His decision to leave the party comes after fellow councillors Sue Phillips and Paul Bissett quit the Lib Dems and joined Labour. Doncaster’s Lib Dem council leader Paul Coddington said he was angry Coun Wilson had left so close to the deadline for nominations for the May elections. The party has fielded a candidate, Kim Doyle, to stand against him in Town Moor ward.
Coun Wilson was suspended by the Lib Dems when he joined former Doncaster Mayor Martin Winter’s cabinet against his party’s wishes, but later re-joined. He said yesterday he was unhappy with the national party and the direction of the party locally.
He said: “I decided over the weekend not to renew my membership, which ran out on March 31, and put myself up for election as an independent.
“I have been uncomfortable since January last year over matters such as tuition fees, the education maintenance allowance, and what has been done with child benefit.
“I used to be a personal advisor for Connexions, the careers organisation, and I know the impact it will have. I have been uncomfortable with what has been done in Government.
“Locally, I don’t think we have a clear direction and think there is too much apathy.”
Coun Wilson stood as the Lib Dem candidate for the Doncaster Central parliamentary constituency last year, and has been a councillor for 12 years.
Coun Coddington said that right up to the deadline for nominations on Monday, Coun Wilson had led him to believe he was still in the party. But he said there had been concerns that be may be planning to leave, and the party had acted to put in place its own candidate.
He added: “I feel most of our problems have been down to him, such as the row over his joining the cabinet under Martin Winter. Clearly some people have concerns over what is happening in the national Government. But local elections are about councillors who are in touch locally. I’m happy with the direction of the party locally and I think some in the party will breathe a sigh of relief that he has left.”
He said there was no suggestion Coun Wilson was unhappy when the party put him forward as its nomination for a place on Peter Davies’ cabinet.