The leader of the Liberal Democrats has played down the severity of a possible rift within the Watford Liberal Democrat party following a raft of resignations.

Sir Ed Davey was in Watford this morning to launch his party’s local elections campaign, as voters prepare to go the polls on May 6 with various seats across England up for grabs.

A third of Lib Dem-run Watford Borough Council’s seats are up for election but the Lib Dems' campaign has been overshadowed by a wave of departures.

Councillors Keith Crout, Maggie Parker, and Jane Johnson have all quit the party in recent weeks.

Councillor Crout told the Observer last month he left the Watford Lib Dems due to the "conduct" of the party and its "treatment of fellow councillors".

He and Cllr Parker have left the Lib Dems to form their own Independent party in Watford, while Jane Johnson has left the council altogether.

There will be a further shake-up with deputy mayor Karen Collett standing down, while long-serving councillor Iain Sharpe is retiring.

See more: Councillors Crout and Johnson leave Watford Liberal Democrat party

See more: Maggie Parker leaves Watford Liberal Democrats

Sir Ed Davey speaking with the mayor of Watford in Bar Bodega

Sir Ed Davey speaking with the mayor of Watford in Bar Bodega

Speaking from Bar Bodega in The Parade in Watford town centre, Sir Ed was asked whether he believed the raft of changes of councillors within the Watford Lib Dems would have a "detrimental effect" on his party’s vote in the town.

He responded: "We’ve got very strong leadership with Peter. He’s put together a strong team and they’ve proven what they can do. They work hard and they get things done whether it’s for young people or the environment.

"Local parties are like a family who occasionally have the odd squabble but it’s very minor. The actual work of the council is totally unaffected and during this pandemic, they’ve worked with local people and businesses and they’ve got a great record."

When quizzed further on allegations of intimidation and harassment within the party, Sir Ed said: "If there are any complaints, they need to be properly made and they will be dealt with."

Sir Ed and Mr Taylor in Watford for the Liberal Democrats local elections party launch campaign

Sir Ed and Mr Taylor in Watford for the Liberal Democrats' local elections party launch campaign

Explaining why he had decided to launch his local elections campaign in Watford, Sir Ed said: "We wanted to launch the campaign for local elections here in Watford because it is an absolutely brilliant local authority run by Liberal Democrats, and it has been for some time, and it shows what great community champions we are when given the chance, listening to people and working hard for people and getting things done.

"I think (Watford mayor) Peter (Taylor) has done an amazing job. He had a hard act to follow with Dorothy Thornhill who was a brilliant mayor for Watford but I think he’s shown you can pass the baton onto somebody and they can do a brilliant job too, so Peter has been extremely impressive.

"Our community politics is second to none."