Two Watford Liberal Democrat councillors resign

The Watford Liberal Democrat party has lost two councillors after one member resigned and a second long-serving member quit to become an Independent.

Councillor Keith Crout has resigned as a Lib Dem councillor, but will remain at Watford Borough Council as an Independent representative in Stanborough ward.

Meanwhile, Jane Johnson, a Lib Dem councillor in Nascot ward, has left the council altogether.

In comments made to the Observer, Cllr Crout, a councillor for more than 20 years and who has formerly served as council chairman, said he would not have resigned “if he did not feel so strongly” about an issue, which he declined to go into much detail about at this time.

The councillor, who has another year left to run on his term, says he has left the Lib Dems “due to the conduct of the local party and its treatment of fellow councillors”.

He added it was a decision, finalised last week, that had been “brewing for around 18 months” and has no plans to stand down entirely as a councillor.

Mrs Johnson has also resigned as a Watford Liberal Democrat councillor and a by-election will take place in May to fill her seat.

She told the Observer: “I lost my enthusiasm for the role following two close family bereavements but also felt there was an unhealthy influence from outside the group of fellow councillors that I wasn’t comfortable with and believed this was having a detrimental effect. So I chose to step away.”

Mrs Johnson was elected to the council in 2016, joining her husband Stephen, who is a member of Watford mayor’s Cabinet. Her term had another year left to run.

Responding to the resignations of two councillors, Watford Liberal Democrat party chairman, Peter Kloss, who is also a councillor in Park ward, told the Observer: “The Liberal Democrats in Watford are working hard for communities across the town. The group has clearly set out procedures for complaints, whistleblowing and any behavioural issues.

“I am surprised by Keith’s decision because at no point during his time as a Lib Dem councillor did he raise any concerns through those established processes.

“Jane indicated a while ago she would be stepping down as a councillor following two close family bereavements. We wish Keith and Jane all the best for the future.”

Despite losing two councillors, the Lib Dems retain a large majority at Watford Borough Council, with 27 Lib Dems, 10 Labour, and now one Independent councillor.

A third of the councillors at Watford Borough Council are up for election in May, with voters also going to the polls on May 6 to elect their county councillor.

Hillingdon Times | News