The Liberal Democrat party in Watford is predominantly funded by its own councillors and candidates, figures from the Electoral Commission have revealed.

Between 2001 and 2010 the Watford branch raised more than £90,000 in large donations of more than £500.

In that time, the party has taken control of Watford Borough Council by winning its elected mayoralty and 24 of its 36 seats.

However the Liberal Democrats have never been able to capture the parliamentary seat despite coming close on the last two occasions.

Figures show the party pulls in around £10,000 on average a year in large donations. In its highest grossing year, 2010, it received £19,000.

Its largest donation that year came from supporter Mrs Mary Taylor, who gave £5,000.

Another big donor was Sal Brinton, the party’s parliamentary candidate in 2005 and 2010, who donated £18,600 between 2007 and 2010. Former Woodside representative, Alan Burtenshaw, was the highest donating councillor, giving £18,425 since 2001.

Among other large donors were Oxhey councillor Iain Sharpe, who gave more than £8,000, and former Stanborough councillor Andy Wylie who has given just under £9,000.

Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, is recorded as giving one large donation of £1,100 in 2003.

Commenting on the party’s fundraising, Mayor Thornhill said: “Political parties would not survive without the donations they receive and we all long for the day when we have a big donor.

“I would love it if someone was going to give us a huge sum, but what we have is loads of people giving small donations.

The other day I received an envelope from an old lady with £5 in. It all helps. I am out delivering leaflets, Richard Harrington can afford to have his delivered. Am I jealous? Of course. But what matters is that the system is transparent.”

However, she added, Mr Harrington’s practice of accepting donations through the Watford Business Club was close to the limit of the rules.

She added: “Why are they giving that amount of money? What are they getting out of it?”