Express & Star

Stafford borough councillor defects from Labour to the Conservative Party

A Stafford borough councillor has crossed the floor days after a Conservative MP defected to Labour.

Councillor Louise Nixon. Photo: Kerry Ashdown

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke’s party move hit national headlines – just two weeks after Parliamentary colleague Dan Poulter also defected to Labour.

Stafford Borough Council member Louise Nixon’s party move was in the opposite direction however. The former Labour member took her seat on the Conservative side of the chamber for the first time at last week's full council meeting.

Speaking after the meeting, Conservative opposition group leader Jeremy Pert said: “I’m delighted to welcome Louise to the Conservative group. We’re a very broad church.

“We’re interested in working with people who are strong community champions in their communities and Louise is that. She will bring with her knowledge and experience and we look forward to working with her going forward.”

Councillor Nixon represents Stafford’s Coton ward – the same ward as former Labour group leader Jack Kemp before he stood down at last year’s election. She was first elected onto the authority as a Labour representative at the 2015 election.

The Conservatives, who had been in charge of the authority for 20 years, lost control at last year’s elections. Labour joined forces with Stafford Borough Independents and Green Party members to form a cabinet after no party was left in overall control.

Councillor Nixon’s move means the Conservatives now have 15 members on the borough council and Labour have 12. There are also seven Stafford Borough Independents, five Green Party members and one Liberal Democrat.

Council leader Aidan Godfrey said: “We had no idea Louise was thinking of leaving the Labour Party and were surprised when we received her very short email informing us she had resigned.

“Her email gave no details as to why she was leaving and we still don’t understand her reasoning, although we now believe it has nothing to do with Stafford Borough Council or any local political issues. In fact, Louise has been very supportive of the exciting priorities of the new Stafford Borough Council administration, that will improve our county town and reverse 20 years of decline.

“I’m sure the residents of Coton Ward, who elected her last year as a Labour candidate, will have many questions to ask her and her new colleagues regarding her decision to join a party they did not vote for. The Labour Group on Stafford Borough Council have always tried to help Louise and still wish her well, even though we don’t understand her decision.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has approached Councillor Nixon for comment.