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Councillor switches groups to strengthen Independents

One of the Bognor Regis councillors elected this year has switched his political allegiance.


Cllr Wayne Smith is set to attend Bognor Regis Town Council’s meeting next Monday as an Independent member for the first time.


He said he had decided to leave the Liberal Democrats because he did not believe the town council matters should be dominated by party politics.


“I stood for the Lib Dems in the election because they asked me to.


“At the time, I said to them that it was all about the town for me. But it just got too political for me.


“That’s the only reason behind my decision. I still have a lot of respect for the Lib Dems.


“I have spoken to the Lib Dems about my decision and I have told them that I will be happy to support any proposals they put forward if I believe they will benefit the town.”


Cllr Smith’s decision has taken the number of Independent members of the council to six.


The council’s current composition is: Liberal Democrats – nine, Independent – six, Labour – one.


Cllr Smith was elected to the council for the first time in the polling last May.


He was among the four councillors chosen by voters in the Hotham ward. He received 363 votes to comfortably beat his closest challenger, former town mayor Cllr Stephen Reynolds, of the Conservatives.


Cllr Smith said he hoped he would still be able to retain his chairmanship of the council’s community engagement and environment which he has held since his election.


He was checking the situation with the town council’s officers to find it out before Monday’s meeting.


“A lot of people will be outraged if that is taken away from me. I have done a lot for good causes like Granddad’s Front Room and 4Sight Vision Support since I became a councillor.


“I had never thought of becoming a town councillor until the Lib Dems spoke to me before the elections – but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the council,”


said Cllr Smith.


“I’m a charitable person and, for me, it’s all about helping the town and doing something for the good of Bognor Regis.


“It’s all about Bognor Regis, the community and improving the town.”


He said he hoped to see the town’s regeneration continue in the coming year. He is a supporter of the Sir Richard Hotham Project, with its theatre on the Hothamton site and range of leisure uses, community theatre and flats on the Regis Centre site.


“The project ticks all the boxes for me. It gives people a reason to come to Bognor Regis and not just go to Butlin’s,”


he added.


“It’s the complete package for me and I would like to see it happen for the good of the town.”


Cllr Smith’s suggestion at the previous town council meeting of a seminar with the project is due to be discussed again at Monday’s meeting.

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