Norfolk Liberal Democrat councillor defects to the Conservatives

A second Liberal Democrat county councillor has defected to the Conservatives, saying he has grown disenchanted with his party's policies.

David Callaby, who represents Fakenham division, announced today (Tuesday) that he was making the switch, which swells the ranks of the controlling Tory group at County Hall to 62 and reduces the Liberal Democrat ranks to 10 members.

Mr Callaby, who lives in Thorn Road, Fakenham, and has had two stints as county councillor for the division, said the Lib Dem attitude to Europe had been part of the reason for his change of parties.

He said: 'I have been thinking about this for a long time. Nationally I have become more and more disenchanted with the Liberal Democrats and their policies, especially on Europe.

'It's very difficult to carry on as a member of that party. It's been a hard decision to make but I have confidence it's the right one. I feel that I can best represent my constituents' in the Fakenham Division as a Conservative.

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'I have been generally supportive of the vision and direction that the Conservative administration at County Hall has set for the people of Norfolk.' Mr Callaby, who is Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Fire and Rescue and member champion for learning difficulties, has previously worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau and volunteered with the air cadets for many years.

He said: 'This is a new direction for me and I am looking forward to it. I want to serve Fakenham in the best possible way and I was not doing that by being in the Liberal Democrats, whereas I think I can by being in the Conservatives.'

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Mr Callaby, who had previously defected from Labour to the Lib Dems, was reluctant to discuss whether local issues with the Liberal Democrat group had played a part in his defection decision.

But it is another blow to the opposition Lib Dem group at County Hall, who have seen their numbers drop from 13 to 10 in just five months.

Paul Rice, who represents South Smallburgh division, swapped yellow for blue in July, saying he was 'uncomfortable with many decisions made within the Lib Dem party nationally and locally'.

And the Lib Dems will be fighting to hang onto the Lakenham division seat in Norwich at a by-election on November 24, sparked when their councillor Fiona Williamson resigned because she is moving abroad.

Derrick Murphy, leader of the Conservative group at County Hall and leader of Norfolk County Council said: 'I am very pleased that David has decided to join us.

'I know that it has not been an easy decision but welcome a valued and experienced county councillor to our ranks. 'David joins us at a very exciting time and I am delighted he will be helping to take our vision for Norfolk forward.'

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