'Atmosphere of anger' prompts councillor to quit Lib Dem group

Ward member Georgie Perry-Warnes supports the wind turbines applications.Picture: John Rest

Ward member Georgie Perry-Warnes supports the wind turbines applications.Picture: John Rest - Credit: Archant

A north Norfolk councillor has quit her second party in five years, promising not to stand again next year.

Georgie Perry-Warnes, who represents Holt ward, left the Liberal Democrat group last Thursday.

This is the second time Ms Perry-Warnes has left a political group in her time on North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), having previously resigned as a Conservative in 2017.

Explaining her decision, Ms Perry-Warnes said she was uncomfortable with how "tribal" the Lib Dem group has become, with too much focus on national politics.

She said: "I think the district council should concern itself with local issues and make representing the interests of local people a higher priority than interparty politics.

"My personal mental health of experience of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] means I'm temperamentally unsuited to managing the prevailing atmosphere of anger and outrage which goes with this polarised culture of tribalism.

"I tried to challenge it in the group but I'm afraid that the few loud voices are drowning out the quieter ones."

Ms Perry-Warnes said she wished NNDC's Liberal Democrat leader Tim Adams the best, calling him a "decent man" who has been handed a "poisoned chalice".

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She added she plans to continue representing the Holt ward to the best of her ability but would not seek re-election next year.

Responding to the departure Mr Adams praised Ms Perry-Warnes, calling her a "wonderful councillor and a wonderful person".

"She's finishing up with the council in 2023 and I don't blame her for departing the group at all," he said.

"She doesn't like party politics and it's not an easy thing to do, being a councillor."

Mr Adams said he did not think he had been handed a poisoned chalice but said leadership involved learning every day.

Tim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District Council.

Tim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District Council. - Credit: Supplied by the Liberal Democrat

He also said he did not like to engage in tribalism but argued the Lib Dems were a party opposed to the Conservatives locally and nationally, and debate between the two groups will be part of politics.

The Lib Dem group has been depleted over the last two years, with four seats lost since the last election in 2019.

Last year, Greg Hayman quit to go independent, while the Conservatives won a by-election in Stalham in December. In 2020, two councillors - Jolanda Stenton and Nigel Pearce - joined the Conservatives.

The council is now made up of 24 Liberal Democrats, 10 Conservatives, four Independent Group members and two non-aligned independents.