Party exit over U-turn on fees

Coun David O'Neill
Coun David O'Neill

A LOCAL councillor has left the Liberal Democrats in response to its U-turn on university tuition fees.

David O’Neill, who has represented the Calder ward on Calderdale Council for the past four years and has been a Todmorden town councillor for 22 years, said it was wrong for the Lib Dems to abandon its manifesto pledge of not raising tuition fees.

“Being an ex-teacher, I have been very concerned about the tuition fees and the education maintenance allowance,” he said.

“I meet students in the street and all they say to me is ‘You Lib Dems have stopped us going to university’.

“Our manifesto said we would not go down the line of putting up tuition fees. As soon as they got into government they have decided to change it. I think that’s wrong. Students deserve better.”

Coun O’Neill said his decision to leave the party had not been taken lightly.

He is not seeking re-election in the Calder ward at the upcoming Calderdale Council elections, instead choosing to stand as an independent candidate in the Todmorden ward.

“I have had to think for my future, what was left for me at my age, and basically it was to go it alone,” he said. “I think I have another four years at least inside me.”

He is also seeking re-election to Todmorden town council as an independent councillor.

Coun Janet Battye, leader of the Lib Dem group on Calderdale Council, said: “David tells us that he has no problems with the Liberal Democrats on Calderdale Council so we are dismayed and perplexed that he is taking this action.

“The logic behind this move is not something that is clear to us.”

l DO you agree with Coun O’Neill’s decision? Email todnews@todmordennews.co.uk