SOLIHULL and Meriden Labour Party has been left reeling after the defection to rival parties of its only two representatives on Solihull Borough Council.
Councillor David Cole has joined the ruling Conservative group and Coun Marcus Brain the Green Party.
They both represented Kingshurst and Fordbridge and it means for the first time since its inception in 1974 there are now no Labour councillors on Solihull MBC.
Local Labour party chair Sam Mather, while acknowledging the impact of the defections, said they also represented an opportunity to remake Labour in the borough.
“It gives us a chance to re-assess our position in Solihull and gives us free rein to look at things differently,” he said.
“A lot of our resources went to support them in the elections, but now we can take a broader view.
“As it stands, rather than joining the Tories, I think they are doing more harm than good in Solihull which needs a strong opposition that can take the Tories on on all fronts, and that needs to be Labour.
“For instance a key part of David’s election strategy was around GPs surgeries not being well funded and access to health care, and that situation hasn’t changed.”
He added the party had agreed to accelerate their selection process ready for next year.
“I am really confident we will get some really good candidates who will appeal to people who do not wish to be represented by the Tories,” he said.
Coun Cole has represented Kingshurst and Fordbridge for just under four years and previously chaired Kingshurst Parish Council.
He said of his decision: “It is increasingly clear that the Conservatives in Solihull are making a serious commitment to Kingshurst and wider North Solihull.
“Central to that is the multi-million pound investment that is going to deliver the new flagship Kingshurst village.
“My priority is improving the lives of the people of Kingshurst and Fordbridge, and I recognise that the Council, Mayor Andy Street and local MP Saqib Bhatti share that commitment.”
Leader of the Conservatives on Solihull Council Councillor Ian Courts said: “David Cole is a well-respected hardworking councillor so I am delighted he has chosen to join our team and to work with us for the local community and its residents.”
Coun Brain said: “This has been such a difficult decision for me – I joined Labour as a 16-year-old and I’ve been active from the day I first got involved.
“But Labour has lost sight of its core values. Local politics is irrelevant to Keir Starmer – there’s no interest in making change on the ground.
“Labour is no longer the right party for the area so after much consideration I’ve decided to join Solihull Green Party, whose values I think are far closer to mine.”
Coun Steve Caudwell, Green group leader in Solihull, said: “Marcus has been an absolute stalwart for the people of Kingshurst and Fordbridge.
“By working with the much bigger Green Group on Solihull Council, we will be able to achieve so much more for the community and hold the Conservative Council to account who have let down Kingshurst and Fordbridge for so long.”