Published: 00:00, 06 April 2014
| Updated: 13:25, 06 April 2014
A former Liberal Democrat borough council candidate has defected to the Green Party.
Irene Shepherd, who stood as a Lib Dem candidate for the Fant ward in the 2012 election, is now supporting Stuart Jeffery, chair of the Kent Green Party, to be elected in the same ward.
The election will take place on Thursday, May 22 and according to Ms Shepherd the main reason she has changed allegiance is because the Lib Dems have failed to protect the environment.
She said: “I am really pleased to have found a party that really cares about the environment and is prepared to do what it takes to protect it.
“I have been hugely impressed by Caroline Lucas’s stand against fracking that has landed her in court and thoroughly disappointed by the Lib Dems backing of it.
“Fracking is likely to come to parts of Maidstone soon and we must do all we can to stop it.
“I have been very impressed by the local Green Party, their real environmental principles and their leadership to stop the proposed housing on Fant Farm’s grade one agricultural land.
“I am really keen to support Stuart’s fight to win Fant Ward where he is the front runner in the race.”
Mr Jeffery said: “I am really pleased to welcome Irene to the Green Party. It is very clear that the Lib Dems try to claim environmental principles but they are backing fracking, airport expansion, road expansion and nuclear power - none of which are in anyway green. I’m sure Irene will be an asset to us.”
In response to the defection the Lib Dems have defended their position on the environment.
Planning spokesman Cllr Tony Harwood, representatative for the north ward, says the party’s record on practical action to protect the environment is second to none.
The party also claim it was their member Cllr Ian Chitteden, representative for the south ward, who set the local agenda on fracking.
This agenda calls for a better understanding on the effects caused by the process.
Mr Chittenden said: “While other parties grand-stand on the environment, local Lib Dems use the system intelligently and pragmatically to effectively protect our quality of life and beautiful County.”
In the 2012 election Ms Shepherd received 311 votes, a 16% share of the Fant vote, placing her in fourth place amongst the candidates.
Mr Jeffery came third with 442 votes and Labour and Co-Operative Party candidate Paul Harper came second with 548 votes.
Cllr Stephen Paine won the election with 610 votes, a 32% share.
Lib Dem representative Cllr Stephen Beerling’s seat is to be contended in this year’s election.
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