There will be a different name on the next General Election’s ballot box in North Cornwall for the Liberal Democrats after the resignation of their party political candidate.
Phil Hutty, a social worker and long-time campaigner who had previously stood as a candidate for the party in Central Devon in 2010 and South East Cornwall in 2015 and 2017, has said he resigned as there were ‘differing values and priorities’ between himself and the local party executive.
Mr Hutty was selected by members of the North Cornwall Liberal Democrats around 18 months ago.
Councillor Leigh Frost, the Cornwall Council member for Bodmin St Petroc and deputy group leader of the Liberal Democrat group at the local authority, said he was intending to put his name forward for selection to the seat.
Mr Hutty’s departure means that the Liberal Democrats will be seeking a new campaigner to try and take back the seat held by former Cornwall councillor for Wadebridge West and current Conservative MP Scott Mann since 2015, when he defeated incumbent Dan Rogerson, who had held the seat since 2005.
At the 2019 election, the North Cornwall Liberal Democrats fielded veterinary surgeon and campaigner Danny Chambers as their candidate, with Mr Mann keeping the seat with 30,671 votes to Mr Chambers’ 15,919 votes.
Confirming his departure, the North Cornwall Liberal Democrats said a new candidate would be selected in due course.
Mr Hutty said: “It has been a privilege to serve as the Liberal Democrat PPC for North Cornwall, especially after such overwhelming support in the original candidate selection 18 months ago.
“I am grateful for the trust and support from many constituents and party members throughout my tenure, and for the many kind and supportive responses received since my resignation was announced.
“Having been a member of the Liberal Democrats for over 30 years, with my heart and voice fighting for Cornwall for most of that time, my decision to resign stems from a recognition of differing priorities and values within the executive.
“I understand that there may now be some reflection taking place within the wider party, and I trust that any such appraisal will provide clarity and stability for the way forward.
“Being given the opportunity to represent the interests of the community has been deeply rewarding and I hope that my successor will continue the commitment to serving the constituents on the big as well as local issues as diligently as I have.
“I am grateful and honoured to have contributed to our democratic process.”
A party spokesperson, confirming Mr Hutty’s departure, said: “The North Cornwall Liberal Democrats (NCLDs) met last week to progress with the selection of a new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for their local Constituency.
“At their Annual General Meeting, those present gave the Local Party Executive their support to move swiftly with voting in a new PPC to provide the momentum needed to win back the seat in next year’s much anticipated General Election.
“The meeting also agreed to begin seeking and selecting potential Party candidates for Cornwall Council elections in 2025.
“The need for a new PPC has been triggered by Phil Hutty electing to stand down last week.”
Local Party Chair, Richard Davies added: “We are committed to working for the needs of the local community and are conﬁdent we will appoint a strong Liberal Democrat Candidate to win the seat at the next General Election.
“Across the constituency, people are telling us that it is time for change in North Cornwall. The Liberal Democrats are the party that can deliver that change.
“Several new members joined the executive at our AGM (annual general meeting)– bringing additional skills, knowledge and expertise to the Committee, and which will help us build the campaign we need to win the seat”.
Liberal Democrat Cornwall Council member for Poundstock, Nicky Chopak said: “We know from local residents, and by our canvassing on doorsteps this year, that voters want a party that listens to them and works for them.
“The Liberal Democrats can oﬀer real change and a fair deal for the residents of North Cornwall.”