A SWINDON Labour councillor has defected to the Conservatives, saying his former party 'has moved to the extreme of politics'.

Bazil Solomon, who won the Liden, Eldene and Park South seat last year, even tried to become the party’s candidate for North Wiltshire at the general election.

Announcing his decision yesterday, he said he has been made to feel unwelcome by the Labour group since the 2019 local elections.

Coun Solomon said: “The Labour party is divided at both national and local level and has moved to the extreme of politics. Leaving the Labour party has been a difficult decision to make but I feel the best interests of my residents and the town will be served by joining the Conservative group.

“Under the Conservative administration and David Renard’s leadership Swindon is continuing to thrive with many new things happening and exciting projects coming to fruition and I want to be a part of that positive future.”

Coun Renard was pleased with the news.

He said: “We are delighted to welcome Bazil to the group as part of our growing and diverse team and appreciate his endorsement of the plan for our town’s future.

"We look forward to listening to his views and ensuring he can contribute to our positive agenda.”

The Conservative MP for the ward, Robert Buckland, was also thrilled.

He said: “I am delighted that Bazil has become a member of our local team, working positively to make Swindon and even better place to live and work.”

The move comes as a blow to the Labour group, which suffered the defection of Matthew Courtliff to the Conservatives last April..

Its leader Jim Grant said: “Bazil has yet to speak to me to explain why he has decided to leave the Labour party.

“A lot of what Bazil has said he has never mentioned to me or any other Labour councillor nor asked for our support. What I would say to Bazil is that has just been elected with an overwhelming majority as a Labour candidate.

“To join the Conservatives six months after getting Labour supporters to vote for him is a kick in the teeth to all those people. If he wants to join the Conservatives and not alienate the 1200 people who voted for him as a Labour candidate he really needs to call a by-election and stand as a Conservative. That would be the honourable thing to do.”

The Tories now have 32 councillors to Labour’s 22 and the Lib Dem’s two. The Rodbourne Cheney seat held by Labour’s Des Moffatt until his recent death remains vacant.