A disillusioned councillor claims other representatives are becoming increasingly frustrated about being forced to toe the party line.

Three Rivers District Cllr Martin Brooks is “considering all the options” about his future in the Liberal Democrat group.

He claims representatives from all parties are “flinching” when they are being forced to toe the party line “because they do not feel they have the power to say no”.

The Lib Dem says he should not be forced to back policies and knows of “three or four” other councillors who are frustrated about not being able to vote the way they want.

Cllr Brooks said Lib Dems were instructed to support their Police and Commissioner candidate. But he has refused to support Chris White after he told members “someone has to do it” after being asked why he was standing.

PCC candidate Chris White said he “couldn’t deny saying something like that” but added it was “tongue in cheek”.

The Three Rivers councillor also argued for changes to make it easier for arts groups to get more public money. This proposal was shot down by the party leadership.

He said: “I do not think I should have to hold my tongue or not comment on an issue because I am a member of the Liberal Democrat Party.

“You might as well call it a day if you are just toeing the party line. If you have a view, one way or the other, you should be able to vote that way and vote the way you believe best represents people.

“I want the freedom to say the people I represent are telling me this.

“I have spoken to three or four other councillors who think the same thing. It is a problem in every group.”

The friction in the Liberal Democrat group emerged this week after the representative for Leavesden criticised fellow Lib Dem Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst in a letter to the Watford Observer.

Cllr Brooks criticised his fellow Leavesden representative over claims that forcing schools to become an academy would damage school standards.

In an earlier letter, Cllr Giles-Medhurst wrote: “The Conservative government’s move to force all schools, irrespective of their views, to become academies is nothing short of privatisation of schools run by big businesses and overseen by central government, with no local control.

“I went to state schools and a secondary modern before college. I have had no issues with how I have got on in life since.”

However, Cllr Brooks criticised this comment, saying: “It is an almost classist comment. The inference of what he is saying is that an academy is a lower standard.

"Does he really think that Tesco is going to start running local schools or that schools will start selling advertising space on the side of the science block to raise funds?"

Cllr Giles-Medurst, in response to Cllr Brooks’ claims, said: “It is a personal view. As was mine. My view is that the move is wrong. Others have a different view. That is called democracy and healthy debate.”

Speaking about Cllr Brooks’ claims about toeing the party line, Cllr Giles Medhurst added: “I have no idea what the issue is if someone is offering to help on the election day and attending meetings.

“No-one has been told to toe the party line. We have a discussion about all the issues in a group meeting before, where we have a discussion about what should be done regarding opposition motions.

“It is not imposed but it is preferred if people vote the same way. That is why you have a group. But if they have a particular issue with something, they will vote with their conscience.”