Bognor Regis councillor quits Lib Dems for Conservatives

A Bognor Regis district councillor has quit the Lib Dems for the Conservatives just days after standing as a candidate at the county council election.

The Lib Dems have seen the number of seats they hold slowly whittled down since they took over the administration at Arun District Council in May 2019.

They lost both by-elections in Pevensey and Brookfield to the Conservatives last week.

And they have suffered a further blow as Samantha-Jayne Staniforth, who was cabinet member for neighbourhood services, is now listed on the council’s website as a Conservative.

Samantha Staniforth

They now have 16 councillors compared to the Conservatives’ 24.

However neither party on its own has a majority.

On her Facebook page the Orchard councillor said: “Very sadly it has become necessary for me to leave my party of the Liberal Democrats.

“I shall not step down as a Cllr, I am still determined to help serve my community in the best way I can.

“Person not party, I’ve had lots of people say to me in the past, so I hope you will all think this of me as I decide my options.”

Cllr Staniforth stood as a Lib Dem county council candidate for Felpham on Thursday, coming third behind Conservative John Charles and Independent Richard Parker.

Lib Dem James Walsh, leader of Arun, said: “It is frankly bizarre that she has defected to the Tories. Only last Thursday she was asking for people to vote for her as a Liberal Democrat, and yet two days later she has defected, without giving any political reason for her switch.”

He suggested the honourable course would be for her to resign the seat and stand as a Conservative to let the electorate decide.

Cllr Staniforth is also a Bognor Regis town councillor.

Cllr Staniforth has been approached for further comment.