Cowley Street shuts Plymouth Lib Dem branch

ThisIsPlymouth.co.uk has the story:

THE Liberal Democrats have suspended their Plymouth branch after an extraordinary spell of in-fighting among members. After losing two chairmen in five months, the party’s London headquarters stepped in yesterday and shut down the branch.

The first sign of turmoil in the local party came last summer when chairman Steve Barton resigned after a dispute with Dr Judy Evans, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Sutton and Devonport.

In a heated exchange of emails Mr Barton accused Dr Evans of making “negative and destructive comments” and of misusing electoral data software, the Election Agents Record System (EARS). He also alleged that there had been irregularities in the branch accounts.

Mr Barton had been chair of the branch since former Plymouth city councillor Karen Gillard left to become the parliamentary candidate for South East Cornwall in 2007.

Local Lib Dem veteran David Jolly was appointed chairman at the branch annual meeting in December, which was chaired by Stuart Bonar, the parliamentary candidate for Plymouth Moor View.

In an email sent to Mr Jolly on December 10, the party’s compliance officer, David Allworthy, warned that “if there is no improvement in the behaviour of the Plymouth executive committee as individuals and collectively then further action under the relevant constitutional clauses may well be initiated”.

Three weeks later, on January 2, Mr Jolly resigned. He told The Herald last week: “I have no comment to make concerning my decision to terminate my membership of the Liberal Democrat Party.”

Jan Mortier, who was elected vice-chairman at the December meeting, has been suspended by the party pending investigation.

A spokesman at the party’s Cowley Street headquarters in London said yesterday: “The Devon and Cornwall Liberal Democrats have today confirmed the suspension of the Plymouth Liberal Democrats local party.

“The parliamentary candidates and their election agents will assume the role of the Plymouth executive with immediate effect, with the full support of the regional and federal party.

“The suspension will remain in place until a new executive can be elected at a new annual general meeting organised by the Devon and Cornwall regional party, following the General Election.”

Never a good thing to happen, but the timing – just months before a general election – could scarcely be worse. Best wishes to Dr Judy Evans and Stuart Bonar for their campaigning, and let’s hope the worst is over.

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4 Comments

  • David Langshaw 22nd Jan '10 - 9:53pm

    Does this sort of thing happen often?

  • Andrew Suffield 23rd Jan '10 - 1:01pm

    Politicians are a lot like people. Some of them are just jerks.

One Trackback

  • By Top of the Blogs: The Golden Dozen #153 on Sun 24th January 2010 at 10:53 pm.

    […] Cowley Street shuts Plymouth Lib Dem branch on Lib Dem Voice. Time for a round of South West edition of Good News / Bad News. Let’s start […]

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