Councillor Matthew Courtliff (Lydiard and Freshbrook ward) has resigned from the Labour Party and the Swindon Labour Group today and has been accepted as the ruling Swindon Conservative Group’s newest Member by Leader of the Council, David Renard (Haydon Wick).
Councillor Courtliff said: “I stood for election to serve the people of Lydiard and Freshbrook and, at that time, I believed the Labour Party offered the best vision for the ward and the borough’s future.
“Unfortunately, the direction of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has been out of touch with the needs of the country, and with my son’s birth 7 weeks away, I have had to make a decision for his future, my residents’ future and the country’s future, and I look forward to Theresa May’s leadership.
“I have been impressed by the Conservative Administration’s Vision for Swindon, and by its willingness under the strong leadership of Councillor David Renard to take the necessary decisions that will provide a sustainable future for public services while also supporting the vital private sector on which we depend.
“I look forward to working with Councillor Renard and my Conservative colleagues: Caryl Sydney-Smith and Tim Swinyard to find the best solutions for the challenges that face our ward and the Borough.”
Councillor Renard added: “I am delighted to welcome Matthew as a Conservative Councillor. He has thought long and hard about how best to serve the residents of the ward and crossing the floor requires great courage. He is most welcome in the Swindon Conservative Group.
Robert Buckland QC MP said” “”I am delighted to welcome Matthew to the Conservatives. More and more people are recognising that the Conservatives led by Theresa May offer the only positive and realistic choice for our country. I look forward to working with Matthew on local issues in the years ahead.”
Councillor Jim Grant, the Leader of the Swindon Labour Group, said: “To join the Conservative Party five months after being elected as a Labour Councillor for a four-year term is a terribly dishonourable position and represents the worst about politics.
“I really don’t know how Cllr Courtliff will be able to justify his decision to the 1421 people in Lydiard and Freshbrook Ward who voted for him as a Labour candidate. He should do the decent, honourable thing, resign as a councillor and stand as a Conservative Candidate in the subsequent by-election.
“Swindon’s Labour Councillors will continue holding the Conservative Council to account, particularly their proposals relating to transferring Lydiard Park out of public control; ignoring the views of residents to introduce new parish councils in order to dramatically increase residents’ council-taxes and cuts to bus services and the Dial a Ride service.
“Cllr Courtliff campaigned vehemently against these policies so it will be interesting to see how he justifies this change of heart.”