A councillor has quit the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall after saying he was “unhappy with the direction the party has taken locally and nationally”.

Norfolk county councillor John Timewell has resigned from the Lib Dem group and quit the party.

Mr Timewell, who represents the north Norfolk ward of West North Walsham and Erpingham, said he was “extremely unhappy” that the party said the candidate to replace former North Norfolk Lib Dem MP Sir Norman Lamb in the December 2019 general election had to be a woman, as it went against his belief in equality.

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It comes after two Lib Dem councillors on North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) resigned from and quit the party - one after being forced to apologise for referring to a female colleague as “you bitch” during a public Zoom planning meeting.

Mr Timewell said: “It is with a heavy heart that I have resigned my membership from the party and as a member of the group at County Hall where I have served and represented the people of my division and Norfolk since 2013.

“My decision has not been taken lightly but I am unhappy with the direction and decision-making the party has taken both locally and nationally.

“I was also extremely unhappy that upon choosing a candidate to replace Sir Norman Lamb, that person had to be a female which is totally against my lifelong belief that at all times and in whatever circumstances everybody should be treated as equal regardless of age, colour or gender.”

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He added: “My priority remains to serve the people of my division and Norfolk, helping them to enjoy a better lifestyle and future.

“I have enjoyed working with you all as well as your friendship and thank those of you in the group who supported me recently with a downturn in my health.”

Mr Timewell added that he was “defiantly not” retiring and would seek re-election in May, 2021.

Dan Roper, Lib Dem deputy group leader, said: “I am disappointed that Mr Timewell has decided to leave the party, particularly given his contribution as a Lib Dem councillor during the Rainbow Alliance.

“He made it known a while ago that he had withdrawn from the panel of Lib Dem candidates for the May 2021 elections but in the meantime was going to remain as a member of our group.

“A new Lib Dem candidate has been selected for his seat who has a strong record of working hard in the local community.”

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