Sunderand Liberal Democrat councillor resigns to become independent over ‘demands’ of campaigning
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The Pallion ward councillor, who was not planning to seek re-election next year due to “personal and health reasons”, outlined his reasons for resigning from the party in a letter to residents.
This included the demands of campaigning and canvassing, with the councillor “finding things difficult to give both residents and the Liberal Democrats the attention they deserve”.
Although Cllr Nicholson will continue as an independent for the remainder of his term, it is understood that he will sit with Lib Dem members in a ‘Liberal Democrat and Others’ group on the council.
Cllr Nicholson’s letter to residents said: “Because of personal and health reasons, I informed the Liberal Democrat leader that I did not wish to stand for election next year.
“I am constantly fighting fly tippers, anti-social behaviour and other issues. I give 100 per cent to help residents in Pallion and will continue to do so even after my term runs out.
“I am also extremely grateful to all the residents who are my eyes and ears and report these issues to me directly. Please help me fight these issues and continue to keep me informed.
“Being a member of the Liberal Democrat Focus team, I have found it very hard to keep up the demands that the Liberal Democrats demand of their members.
“Because of this I am finding things difficult to give both my residents and the Liberal Democrats the attention they deserve.
“[On] August 11, I informed Sunderland council, my desire to resign from being a member of the Liberal Democrats.
“I found it difficult to provide the standards required for both residents and the Liberal Democrat party, so I have chosen residents over party.
“The leader of the Liberal Democrats accepted my resignation and wished me well for the future.
“I will continue to serve all Pallion residents until my term ends as an independent councillor. I thank you all for your kind wishes and understanding.”
Since news of Cllr Nicholson’s resignation was revealed, other political groups on the council have suggested there are issues within the Liberal Democrat Group.
Conservative councillor Michael Hartnack claimed the Wearside Liberal Democrats had “driven away a respected councillor like Colin Nicholson”.
Councillor Phil Tye, chair of Sunderland Labour Group, also credited Cllr Nicholson for “putting people before politics” and suggested the councillor was “feeling dismayed” and had “fled the party”.
Councillor Paul Edgeworth, leader of the Wearside Liberal Democrats, dismissed suggestions that there were issues within the Liberal Democrat Group.
The Lib Dem leader added Cllr Nicholson was a “valued colleague and friend” and noted he had endorsed the new Lib Dem candidate for Pallion.
Cllr Edgeworth said: “Colin Nicholson remains a valued colleague and friend.
“He has worked tirelessly for local people and for the Lib Dems across Pallion and Ford Estate and we thank him for his contribution.
“Whilst we are sad that he doesn’t feel able to stay a member of the Liberal Democrats party we are pleased that he will still sit with our group on the council and that he has endorsed Lib Dem candidate Steve Donkin as his successor in Pallion ward.
“We wish him well for the future and look forward to continuing to work closely with him in the best interests of local people.”
The new political make-up of Sunderland City Council is 46 Labour, 14 Liberal Democrats, 13 Conservatives, one Reform UK and one independent.