TRAFFORD'S Labour group has suffered a bodyblow this week, as a long-serving Labour councillor has crossed the council chamber and joined the Conservative group.

Cllr John Smith, who represents Bucklow St. Martin’s ward, joined the Tory group on Tuesday.

Cllr Smith, who has represented Partington, Carrington and Sale West for nine years, said he'd made his decision because “for some time I have felt that Labour in Trafford were not representing the best interests of Trafford residents."

But Labour group leader, Cllr Andrew Western, hit back. He said Cllr Smith's move came after he had been subject to disciplinary proceedings by the Labour group.

Cllr Smith said of his change of allegiance: "I consider that they (the Labour group) have drifted away from democratic principles and I simply cannot continue to support them.

"I do wish to continue to strive for the best opportunities for my ward and feel that the best way to do this is by joining the Conservative group.

"By working with Trafford Conservatives I can better support my ward and residents in the future. ”

The leader of Trafford Conservatives and Trafford Council, Cllr Sean Anstee, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Cllr John Smith into the Conservative group.

"He has been a tireless campaigner for Partington, Carrington and Sale West over many years and is an excellent member of the council.

"I’m particularly pleased at the prospect of being able to work with him as a part of the Conservative administration on our exciting regeneration plans in his ward.

"We have always adopted a forward thinking approach to improving all parts of our borough and I’m pleased that Cllr Smith has recognised this with his move today.”

Labour group leader, Cllr Andrew Western, responded: "Cllr Smith resigned from the Labour group last week after being advised that he was subject to disciplinary proceedings with regard to his conduct and performance as a Labour group member.

"I find his sudden interest in democratic principles particularly surprising given that he has absolutely no mandate from the residents of Bucklow St Martins ward to serve as a member of the Conservative group.

"I am sure the majority of his constituents will be horrified by this move."

This comes after then Labour councillor Ian Platt, who also represented Bucklow St Martins, switched to being an independent councillor late last year, after the Labour group deselected him. Labour regained the seat in May.