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Wolverhampton councillor quits 'backward' Labour for the Tories

A Wolverhampton Labour councillor has quit her party and joined the Tories, saying the "backward ideas" of Jeremy Corbyn had driven her decision.

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Councillor Payal Bedi-Chadha, inset, has left the Wolverhampton Labour group to join the Tories on the city council, main

Bilston East councillor Payal Bedi-Chadha was formally admitted to the Conservative Party at a meeting last night, taking the number of Tories on Wolverhampton Council to 11.

By crossing the floor she became the first Labour councillor to switch to the Tories since Zahid Shah in 2014.

Ms Bedi-Chadha, who is a lawyer, said the shambolic state of the Labour Party under Mr Corbyn had prompted her decision, which was also influenced by "dictators" on a local level.

Labour has hit back, saying Ms Bedi-Chadha was about to be deselected by her ward over her "poor performance" as a councillor.

Explaining her decision, Ms Bedi-Chadha said she no longer agreed with Labour policies, citing "detrimental and backward ideas" put forward by Mr Corbyn in his conference speech.

"He wants a four-day week – which would slash the wages of people on low incomes. He wants to ban private schools and expropriate their property. Even though it would cost taxpayer several billion pounds to educate the kids.

"Whilst I have tried continuously to make my voice and views heard, I can no longer shout above the dictators who sit within the local Labour Party and be dictated upon.

"The local Labour Party does not work together, they do not work for the benefits of the local residents and they certainly do not listen to their members and representatives.

"The tide is changing, it is now time for Wolverhampton to be led by a party that emphasises social stability and continuity.

Wolverhampton Labour group leader and council chief, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said Ms Bedi-Chadha was due to be jettisoned by the party for poor performance

"A party which promotes education, promotes safer streets and allows women to voice their opinions. A party which wants to save our environment, a party which wants to deliver what the people voted for with Brexit!

“I share the same vision as the Conservative Party who will deliver the change that the people voted for, and they won’t wait to start investing in our local NHS, to build a strong economy and tackle violent crime."

Ms Bedi-Chadha was elected in East Park in 2012 before being deselected and switching to Bilston East. She will defend her seat at next year's local elections.

Tory group leader Wendy Thompson said Ms Bedi-Chadha would "represent the residents of Bilston East and speak up for them against the failures of this Labour-run city council".

Wolverhampton Council's Labour leader, Ian Brookfield, said: "It is no surprise, as Payal has never contributed or spoken once in the time she has been a member of our council.

"Her decision has come 24 hours after she received an official letter outlining that she has one of the poorest attendance records of council meetings in the city – which she was being called into a meeting over.

"It also comes 48 hours before her reselection meeting for her ward, in which ward members were going to jettison her for her poor performance.

"Our message to the Conservatives is: no thanks, and no returns accepted."

Labour dominates the authority, holding 49 of the 60 seats.