A FORMER Conservative councillor and leader of Swindon Borough Council for seven years has endorsed a Liberal Democrat candidate in May 2's local elections.

Rod Bluh, who stepped down from leading the council in 2013, has said he thinks voters in Wroughton and Wichelstowe should vote for Jamie Taylor.

The seat is one which the party, which has just two councillors, has its best hopes of winning, and with the Conservatives holding a three seat majority in the 57-seat chamber going into the elections, a win for Mr Taylor could make a significant difference to which party takes control at Euclid Street.

But Mr Bluh, who says he is no longer a member of any political party, says his endorsement is about the candidate, not the party. He said: "I have known Jamie Taylor for many years since he was a teenager. He grew up in Wroughton and is now committed to serving the local community. His interest in and commitment to public service is rare in one so young. I think he will make an excellent councillor."

Mr Bluh who said he is no longer a member of any party told the Advertiser: "This is more about the candidate than party politics. I've always thought that there was too much party politics in local government, but you can't seem to get anywhere without it. So this endorsement isn't about which party Jamie represents, but him. I think he'd be a very good councillor for the people of Wroughton and Wichelstowe."

Mr Taylor said: "I am proud to have the endorsement from Rod. I will work pragmatically with anyone who has the desire to improve our community and does the best for our village. I will ensure that I don't judge someone by the colour of their rosette but instead by the content of their character."

A spokesman for the Conservative group at Euclid Street said: "It is unfortunate that Mr. Bluh appears to have forgotten that this is a local election about local issues. This news is not a surprise when you consider that Mr Bluh resigned from the Conservative Party because he believes the UK should stay in the EU. For him to support the most pro EU candidate is no surprise. The Liberal Democrat candidate does not even live in Wroughton. Conservative councillor Cathy Martyn lives in Wroughton, is committed to Wroughton and has a strong track record of opposing inappropriate development in Wroughton. She is an excellent Cabinet Member for Housing and has done great work to help the homeless across Swindon. The choice for residents is clear, they either back the Conservatives who are doing a great job for the town or risk ending up with Jeremy Corbyn celebrating Swindon falling under Labour control."

As well as Mr Taylor and Coun Martyn, three other candidates are standing in the ward: Andrew Francis for the Green Party, Sam James for Labour and Lincoln Williams for UKIP