Peggy Dow has revealed the “terrible personal turmoil” she has experienced in deciding to quit the Lib-Dem Party and join the independent groups on both Wiltshire Council and Marlborough town council.
The 64-year-old former Marlborough mayor has made the break as her party, which she joined more than 14 years ago, suffered humiliation in yesterday’s three national by-elections and also the first elections for new police crime commissioners.
Councillor Dow had originally planned to announce her decision after Christmas. “But I was pushed by the party to make a decision now,” she told Marlborough News Online. “And the more they pushed I realised I can’t do this.”
“I was in a terrible personal turmoil and decided in the end that I have to go with my conscience no matter how much it hurt.”
“I feel I can do a better job for the people of Marlborough by joining the independent group on Wiltshire Council and the independents in Marlborough than continuing to be a Liberal Democrat.”
She added that she did not oppose the Lib-Dems being part of the current coalition government. Her resignation was down to the fact that the party under Nick Clegg had failed to maintain its policies over the future of the NHS, tuition fees and its agreement to cuts in armed forces personnel.
“The party has not stood up for any of the principles that decided me to join the Lib-Dems,” she added. “They have let us all down.”
And her dramatic move has coincided with another political breakaway, long-serving Tory councillor Chris Humphries, who represents Aldbourne and Ramsbury, quitting his party to join the independents on Wiltshire Council.
His decision comes in the wake of his three-month suspension following an investigation into controversial comments he is alleged to have made to one of Wiltshire Council’s female officers.
A respected local councillor for almost 40 years at various local levels, Councillor Humphries has along with Councillor Dow now joined the Wiltshire Council independent group led by Councillor Chris Newbury, who personally invited him to cross the floor.
“I hope people understand why,” said a statement issued by Councillor Humphries. “It will not affect my dedication to represent all the inhabitants of the Aldbourne and Ramsbury division as I have done for the past 20 years.”
He has been suspended by council’s ruling Tory group as a result of a Standards Committee decision to uphold 21 allegations of improper comments made to Marlborough Area Board manager Julie Densham.
He has announced that he will contest the decision in the courts.
Meanwhile, Councillor Dow has decided to stand again as an independent in Marlborough East – she has represented the ward for 12 years – at next May’s town council elections.
But she has yet to decide whether she wants to continue after five years as a Wiltshire councillor representing Marlborough – those elections are on the same day.
“It is a lot of hard work,” she pointed out. “I have a lot of thinking to do before making an announcement.”