Wealden Lib Dem resigns over ‘Green Party influence’

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A Liberal Democrat councillor has resigned from his party, due to what he describes as “Green Party influence” in the leadership of Wealden District Council.

On Wednesday (May 15), Cllr Neil Cleaver, representing Hailsham Central, announced his resignation from Wealden’s Liberal Democrat group and his intention to remain on the council as part of a “different political platform”.

In a resignation letter seen by the LDRS, Cllr Cleaver criticised his former party’s role in the Alliance for Wealden — the Lib Dem/Green coalition which runs the council — saying it was being “led by a left-wing Green Party ideology.”

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In the letter, Cllr Cleaver said: “I am resigning from my position as a Liberal Democrat and as a member of the Alliance for Wealden.

Cllr Neil Cleaver. Pic: ContributedCllr Neil Cleaver. Pic: Contributed
Cllr Neil Cleaver. Pic: Contributed

“In recent months, it has become clear that the Alliance, with little action from the Liberal Democrats, is being led by a left-wing Green Party ideology. This ideology, ironically, supports more inappropriate development in Wealden.”

He added: “The focus seems to be on approving everything to meet a four-year housing land supply target, without considering the pros and cons of each application.

“I have worked hard for Hailsham and Wealden as a Liberal Democrat Councillor. But due to the Green Party’s influence in the Alliance, I can no longer stay with a group that wants me to go against my principles for a cause I do not believe in, which I think will harm Wealden and the people who elected me.

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“I will continue to represent their interests from a different political platform, one that doesn’t force me to put aside my views and conscience to support a goal I do not agree with.”

Cllr Cleaver’s resignation came the same day as a meeting which saw the role of council leader swap from Lib Dem James Partridge to the Green Party’s Rachel Millward. This switch in leadership forms part of the two parties’ coalition agreement, with the role due to swap between the two each year.

With Cllr Cleaver’s resignation, Lib Dems and Greens now collectively hold 23 out of 45 council seats. This is one more than half of the total council seats.