Fringe Box



Shock Move at Millmead – Leading Lib Dem Councillor Defects to the Conservatives

Published on: 3 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 4 Nov, 2021

Cllr Jan Harwood

By Hugh Coakley and Martin Giles

In a shock announcement this afternoon (November 3, 2021), Cllr Jan Harwood (Merrow) said he wishes “to be treated as a member of the Conservative group at Guildford Borough Council, with immediate effect”.

Cllr Harwood, formerly a Lib Dem councillor, is the deputy leader of the council and lead member for Planning Policy and Climate Change. No replacement has yet been announced. All Executive positions are in the gift of the council leader, Joss Bigmore (R4GV).

Harwood was expected to take over the leadership of the council next October under the terms of the partnership agreement with the R4GV (Residents For Guildford & Villages).

This evening GBC Leader Joss Bigmore said: “I thank Jan Harwood for his contribution to the council since his appointment to the Executive and wish him well following his decision to move to the Conservative group. As everyone will expect, there will be more announcements on the consequences of this development in due course.”

See also: New Conservative Councillor Removed from Former Appointments and Parting Shot at Defecting Councillor, ‘We Hope He Finds His New Political Home to His Liking’

Email sent to all GBC councillors regarding Cllr Jan Harwood’s move to the Conservative Group (November 3).

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Conservative Group at Millmead said: “The Conservative Group at Guildford Borough Council is pleased to welcome Cllr Jan Harwood, Deputy Leader of the Council. who has today joined us from the Liberal Democrat Group. Jan has extensive experience in Planning Policy and has led the Council on the local plan (part 2) since he joined the Council in May 2019.

Cllr Paul Spooner

And the group leader, Cllr Paul Spooner, at GBC added “It is fantastic to strengthen the team within our group with someone who has committed himself to the council over the past two and a half years and has demonstrated his passion for the environment and particularly the Climate Change agenda that is so important as demonstrated by COP26. I welcome Jan to the Conservative group at GBC.”

Cllr Jan Harwood, deputy leader of the council and new member of the Conservative group at GBC said: “I look forward to working with the Conservative group here in Guildford and indeed Surrey as a whole to drive forward the Greener Futures agenda.”

Sallie Barker, chair of Guildford Conservatives added: “We welcome Jan Harwood joining Guildford Conservatives and look forward to working with him on the Planning and Climate Change agendas.  Jan will make a great addition to our team.”

The democratic services and elections manager at GBC has confirmed the change has come into effect as of today, November 3 2021.

See also: Comment – Will This Shock Defection Allow More Progress?

Exchanges between Cllr Harwood and Guildford Conservatives, including Paul Spooner specifically have, in the past, been direct and sometimes heated.

Labour activist and former borough council candidate Jacob Allen said: “The voters in Merrow elected a Liberal Democrat councillor in Jan Harwood. He should stand down and allow a by-election ASAP.”

See also: Opinion: Perhaps Cllr Iles and Her Co-Plotters Should Play Their Games Somewhere Else?

Lib Dem Harwood Says Sorry For ‘Rant’ Accusing Planning Members of Disdain For Officers

Tempers Erupt Online in Borough Council Non-attendance Dispensation Debate

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Responses to Shock Move at Millmead – Leading Lib Dem Councillor Defects to the Conservatives

  1. Lisa Wright Reply

    November 3, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    That’s not very fair on the people that voted for him is it? They voted for a Lib Dem manifesto, not a Conservative one.

    What’s council procedure when someone ‘resigns’ their position? Surely his ward should be able to decide whether they still want him to represent them?

    Editor’s comment: There is no requirement for councillors to resign and force a by-election if they change their political allegiance. In recent years several have done so, moving from the Conservative party.

  2. Mike Dent Reply

    November 3, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Amazing timing on the day the Tories voted to encourage corruption in the Commons and a couple of weeks after the sewage scandal broke. And he considers himself a supporter of a Greener Future agenda!

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    November 4, 2021 at 7:02 am

    I thought Harwood was a Tory already, given his love and support for the ruinous Tory Local Plan.

    As to his record on the environment and climate change, he has done nothing. But he has supported every planning application to damage the climate further. He should have relinquished the post before he was sacked.

  4. David Roberts Reply

    November 4, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    So I was not wrong to call him an “orange Tory.” With his blind support for the Local Plan, this is a logical move, though why he should join a sinking ship is a mystery.

    He is now off the council Executive – a mercy to us all.

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