Lib Dem councillor turns to Labour after six months

Protest organiser Rachel Follett (centre front) with fellow local residents 

Pictures: Duncan Shepherd (171649_010)

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COSHAM councillor Aiden Gray has made a shock move by turning to Labour from the Lib Dems – just six months after being elected and joining the cabinet.

Portsmouth City Council’s Labour group made the surprise announcement last night, citing the decision to ‘commit potentially million of more funding’ to the Pyramids as one of the main reasons for his defection.

Cllr Gray was voted as ward councillor for Cosham in May and was made cabinet member for community safety.

But Cllr Gray told The News he had been having thoughts about jumping to Labour for the past month.

He said: ‘The first thing I want to make clear is that this is nothing to do with personal issues in the Liberal Democrats.

‘Politics is not about north and south, it’s about right and wrong. I feel the Labour message is the right message.

‘However, the Liberal Democrats have shown that they care little for residents living outside their strong-holds in the south of the city.

‘Indeed, the decision to commit potentially millions more of funding to the Pyramids, whilst refusing other community groups any financial help whatsoever illustrates the cynical approach of the council to supporting the city as a whole.

‘I believe that the Labour Party, both in Portsmouth and nationally, offer the most coherent and fair approach to the difficult choices that the city and country face.’

Cllr John Ferrett, deputy leader of the Labour group, welcomed Cllr Gray’s decision. He said: ‘Aiden is recognised as one of the hardest working councillors and will be a real asset to the Labour group.’

But council and LibDem group leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by Cllr Gray’s decision.

He said: ‘I am really sorry Aiden has done this but I think maybe I promoted him too quickly into cabinet.

‘It’s difficult for people when you are with the reality of stuff.

‘It might be that he feels easier not having to take responsibility for decisions.’