“It was only a matter of time”: North Norfolk Tories react to Nigel Pearce defect

Nigel Pearce, who has quit the Conservatives and joined the Liberal Democrats on NNDC.
Picture: ANT

Nigel Pearce, who has quit the Conservatives and joined the Liberal Democrats on NNDC. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

North Norfolk Conservative members have reacted to the news that Suffield Park councillor Nigel Pearce has defected to the Liberal Democrats.

North Walsham Councillor Nigel Dixon. Picture: Norfolk Conservatives.

North Walsham Councillor Nigel Dixon. Picture: Norfolk Conservatives. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Mr Pearce cited the main reason for the change was his frustration with the cabinet system.

Deputy Leader of the North Norfolk District Council cabinet Nigel Dixon said: 'I think we were all aware it was just a question of timing, it was when and not if.

'I haven't caught up with Nigel in quite a while but from what I've gathered his main issues with the party were with the cabinet system. I've worked on both cabinet and committee systems both here and at the Norfolk County Council and the cabinet system is infinitely better.'

Mr Dixon also made it clear there were no ill feelings towards Mr Pearce.

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The Hoveton councillor continued: 'Every member of the council is free to change party or become independent if they choose to, and we support that.'

In June Georgie Perry-Warnes, from Corpusty and Saxthorpe ward, left the Conservatives to become an independent member, citing similar concerns about the party's leadership.

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North Norfolk district council conservative leader, Tom Fitzpatrick, said: 'Cromer, including Suffield Park ward, will go down from four council seats to three in 2019. I'm afraid I think Nigel was aware it was highly unlikely he would be reselected as a Conservative candidate.'

Mr Dixon was also assured that this will not change the feeling in the council, which is currently operating on a Conservative majority of 30 out of 48 councillors.

Mr Dixon said: 'Nigel thinks that his voice will be better heard in another system and we wish him luck in his new party.'

Mr Pearce announced the news on September 17, saying: 'After much thought and personal agonising, I have decided to join the Liberal Democrats. After many years of loyal service to the Conservative Party both as a councillor and a researcher, I can no longer reconcile myself to the policies being implemented by the ruling group on North Norfolk District Council.​

'In my opinion, the problems with the current administration stem from the cabinet system where the decisions of the council are made by a very small group.'

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