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Councillor defects to Conservative Party after swearing in Zoom meeting

PUBLISHED: 05:30 28 August 2020

Leader of the North Norfolk Conservatives at North Norfolk District Council, Christopher Cushing and Nigel Pearce. Picture: North Norfolk Conservatives

Leader of the North Norfolk Conservatives at North Norfolk District Council, Christopher Cushing and Nigel Pearce. Picture: North Norfolk Conservatives

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A councillor has quit his party to return to the Conservative group, days after he was forced to apologise for swearing in a Zoom meeting.

Nigel Pearce has quit the Lib Dems and returned to the Conservative Party. Mr Pearce is pictured with Christopher Cushing, left, and MP Duncan Baker, right. Picture: North Norfolk ConservativesNigel Pearce has quit the Lib Dems and returned to the Conservative Party. Mr Pearce is pictured with Christopher Cushing, left, and MP Duncan Baker, right. Picture: North Norfolk Conservatives

Nigel Pearce, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) member for Roughton, defected from the Conservative group to the Liberal Democrats in 2017.

Mr Pearce, then councillor for Suffield Park ward in Cromer, said at the time he could “no longer reconcile” himself to the policies being implemented by the then-ruling Conservatives.

But Mr Pearce has now been “warmly welcomed” back to the Conservative group, after being “unhappy with the current administration for quite some time.”

In a statement, Mr Pearce said: “I have always been a natural Conservative and supported Brexit, which the Liberals have totally ignored.

“We have an outstanding, hardworking constituency MP, who is dedicated to helping the local area.”

North Norfolk Liberal Democrat leader, Sarah Bütikofer, confirmed Mr Pearce had left the party and “was not surprised” he found his position untenable after his behaviour at a council meeting.

In an outburst, the councillor said ‘you bitch’ after a fellow party member voted in a virtual planning meeting on August 20.

Mr Pearce said his defection was not linked to the incident.

But Mrs Bütikofer said: “Following his behaviour at a meeting of the council’s planning committee last week, we are not surprised that councillor Pearce found his position within the Liberal Democrat Group untenable.

“We are only surprised that such behaviour is condoned and supported by the North Norfolk Conservative Group. As a party and a group it is not behaviour we are prepared to tolerate from our members.”

In response to Mrs Bütikofer, Leader of the Conservative group at NNDC, Christopher Cushing said: “Cllr Pearce explained his comment was said in the heat of the moment and regretted it.

“After the meeting he wrote to apologise to the chairman of the committee, and to Sarah Butikofer, the leader of the council. Both accepted his apology and I understand no further action would be taken.

“The Conservative Party clearly does not condone such behaviour.”

Mr Pearce said he apologised at 10am the morning after the incident and his leaving the party was not linked to the outburst.

“I apologised at 10am the next morning and my apologies were accepted. I have no bad feelings towards the party, it was a faux pas,” he said.


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