A LIBERAL Democrat city councillor has quit the party after being dropped as a candidate for the next council elections.
Alastair Shields, councillor for Almond ward since 2012, was heavily defeated in the party’s internal selection contest by leading Lib Dem activist Kevin Lang.
Deselection has left me confused about what the Lib Dems want, so I’ll leave them to it.Alastair Shields
It means that since 2012, the Lib Dem group has gone from being the largest party at the City Chambers with 17 councillors and leading a coalition administration with the SNP to having just two councillors out of 58.
Cllr Shields said he had resigned from the group and the party and would now sit as an independent councillor for Almond and stand for re-election in 2017 as an independent.
In a statement, he said: “I accept the result, but as far as I’m concerned I presented a strong record of action and a set of realistic objectives to the Almond ward Lib Dem membership and the majority chose to go for someone else.
“Moving forward, I have officially resigned from the Lib Dem council group and also called time on my entire party membership.
“I spent a long time working to be the type of councillor the Lib Dems needed and proclaimed about at party conferences and on people’s doorsteps – hard-working, standing up for community empowerment and fighting local causes.
“Deselection has left me confused about what the Lib Dems want, so I will leave them to it.”
He said he would continue to work hard for residents of Almond ward, serving as an independent councillor and planned to put himself forward as an independent candidate in the 2017 council elections.
He said his move was “no reflection” on his relationship with the two remaining Lib Dem councillors and he was “grateful for their support over the last few years”.
Lib Dem group leader Paul Edie said Cllr Shields was a valued colleague and he was sad to lose him.
He said: “I’m very disappointed this has happened. Alastair has done a lot of work for his constituents. All our sitting councillors were open to challenge in this way. We have an open and transparent system for selection.
“We are two now, but we have 53 years’ experience between us, which must count for something.”
Cllr Edie and his remaining Lib Dem colleague, Robert Aldridge, have already been reselected in their wards.
Mr Lang, who will now be the Lib Dems’ candidate for Almond at the 2017 council elections, was assistant to former Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP John Barrett for six years and stood for Edinburgh North & Leith at the 2010 general election.
Conservative councillor Jason Rust said: “It seems there won’t in fact be three wise men on the Lib Dem seats in the City Chambers this Christmas. Despite their massively reduced numbers the Lib Dems continue to be in disarray and appear to be fast vanishing from the Edinburgh political scene altogether.”