Former leader of West Sussex County Council quits Tory party

Louise Goldsmith, who led the Conservatives to one of their biggest landslide victories in recent history in the 2017 West Sussex County Council elections, has left the political party.

Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 12:11 pm
Updated Friday, 9th October 2020, 1:34 pm
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council

For nearly ten years — from 2010 to 2019 — Mrs Goldsmith was Conservative leader of the authority, and displayed dazzling political success in the last elections taking 80 per cent of the seats.

But in a statement issued on Wednesday, she said that while she will remain as a county councillor serving her residents in the Chichester West Division she will be undertaking her role as an Independent member.

Mrs Goldsmith’s final year as leader was mired in controversy.

Children’s services in West Sussex are due to be transferred to an independent trust after a Department for Education report found there had been ‘inadequate and ineffective leadership’ from the county council.

And the £190,000 per year chief executive Nathan Elvery left by mutual consent — with a substantial £265,000 financial settlement.

Speaking this week, Mrs Goldsmith said: “I have always described myself as a traditional Conservative with a very deep interest in the environment and climate change. Although the Party is addressing both climate change and environmental matters, I am concerned that they do not go far enough and quickly enough to address these two highly critical issues.

“We all know that dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic is testing every government across the world, but as I said in a recent speech to the county council there are two colossuses the Government has to deal with: Climate Change and Covid both need the full attention of the administration.

“We become political activists at national or local government level for a range of reasons, because of conviction, to help and give back to the community, for a second career and all that it may entail.

“For me I am a conviction politician which has caused me to reflect over the last few months. Add to that recent events within the Chichester Conservative Constituency Association which have made me question whether I wish to remain a member of the Conservative Party or not.

“After nearly 20 years as a county councillor and many decades of being a paid member of the Conservative Party I have had to think very long and hard and my conclusion is to cease being a member of the Party.

“I would like to thank the many people and friends who have supported and encouraged me over the years. To those Conservatives who may think I have let them down — I apologise.”

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.