ONE of Swindon's longest serving Labour councillors has quit the party.

Coun David Glaholm (Ind, Penhill), who has been a councillor for 36 years, handed in his letter of resignation on Tuesday.

He said he had been thinking about resigning for a number of weeks and the local party's recent actions had helped him make the decision.

"I criticised Government minister Ruth Kelly over the lack of housing policy," he said.

"I was then called an enemy of the party because I dared to speak out against a Government minister. But I would much rather be an enemy of the party than an enemy of the people that I serve.

"That was when I made my mind up to go."

Coun Glaholm said that a Labour election leaflet that claimed the Conservative party was lining its own pockets, which has been fiercely denied, was disgraceful and was another factor behind his decision.

"I was appalled when I saw it and I could not believe that someone in the group would stoop so low," he said.

"And then for them to make light of it and make out it was nothing was just outrageous.

"Hopefully, sometime in the near future the person responsible for the leaflet will be disciplined by the party."

And despite his departure from the party they voted for, he said people living in his ward had been supportive of the move.

"They have said that as long as I continue to work for them as I have for the past 36 years then they do not care what party I belong to."

Coun Glaholm was first elected in 1971. He became a member of Wiltshire County Council in 1979 before being elected on to Thamesdown Council in 1989.

"I am very sad that it has had to come to this," said Coun Glaholm.

"The Labour group that I joined all those years ago is very different from the one that is there now.

"I hope that one thing that comes of my leaving is that one of the suits from outside Swindon will come down and see what is happening because something is going wrong."

Labour group leader Coun Kevin Small said that he believed that Coun Glaholm had crossed the floor for personal gain.

This is an allegation denied by Coun Glaholm who said it was "a load of rubbish".

Coun Justin Tomlinson (Con, Abbey Meads) said the Labour party would not be able to continue ignoring what was happening within their party.

"For an extremely popular and well-respected councillor of 36 years service to resign cannot be ignored by the Labour party," he said.

"This is now the sixth Labour resignation in just two years.

"The crystal clear message to fellow local residents is why should anyone vote Labour if their own councillors won't?

"Labour's nasty and negative politics should and will be rejected."