Eastville councillor joins Lib Dems
A COUNCILLOR who quit Labour earlier this year has now joined the Liberal Democrats.
Eastville ward councillor Sultan Khan initially sat as an independent after leaving the Labour party following a row over reselection.
Cllr Khan says he left Labour because of “factional fighting” and a "failure to deliver enough for our local community".
But Labour says there is an "overwhelming" case for Cllr Khan to resign and face a by-election.
After he was unveiled as a Lib Dem at an event outside City Hall, Cllr Khan said: "Residents deserve effective representatives who aren’t hampered by factional fights within their own party. With the Lib Dems I can put our area first.
"To leave a party after 15 years of membership and service is a very hard choice, but I am very excited at joining the Lib Dems and having the freedom to put the needs of Eastville ward residents first.
“I will remain the councillor for Eastville and continue to work for all residents and next year voters can make a decision on what sort of representation they want.”
An Eastville councillor for eight years, Cllr Khan received more support than any other candidate in the two-seat ward at the last election in 2016, polling 2,245 votes from more than half of the 4,305 voters who turned out.
He was on the shortlist to be a Labour candidate again in 2020 but resigned before selection was due to take place after alternative prospective candidates were endorsed by a number of activists, including fellow Eastville councillor Mhairi Threlfall.
The Lib Dems say that several other local Labour members and supporters have also joined them, saying Labour had taken the "area, and votes, for granted".
Speaking to the Voice earlier this year, Cllr Khan said he believed he had picked up cross-party support during his time representing the ward, including the BME community, and had a "significantly higher" share of the vote than Labour councillors in many other wards.
City council Labour group leader Marg Hickman said: "After Eastville residents emphatically elected a Labour MP, two Labour councillors, and a Labour Mayor all standing up against austerity, Councillor Khan has joined the very party who started the cuts with the Tories.
"The case for him to resign and face a by-election is overwhelming. He must do the right thing."