May 16 2012
THE deputy leader of Solihull's Lib Dems, Councillor Andy Hodgson, has crossed the floor and joined the Green Party.
He announced his defection, along with son Tim, who used to be councillor in the same Shirley South ward, on Wednesday this week.
The pair said anger at the Coalition Government and a lack of effective opposition locally had persuaded them to tear up their membership cards.
Coun Hodgson, who has represented Shirley South since 2006, said he had been impressed by the vigour and leadership shown by the Greens.
Just a fortnight ago, son Tim had stood as Lib Dem candidate for Shirley South, coming within 40 votes of retaking the seat he had lost in 2011.
"I could no longer defend decisions being made at a nation level. The Lib Dems are propping up a Conservative government who are making massive cuts and driving privatisation for ideological ends," said Coun Hodgson.
"At a local government level, the party is disintegrating. In Solihull it is being pushed back to its traditional wards, like Lyndon and Olton, and has shown it can no longer win in marginal seats."
Its a bitter blow for local Lib Dems, who saw Simon Slater switch his allegiance to Labour in 2010. Another former Lib Dem, Howard Allen, joined the Greens 12 months ago.
Coun Ian Hedley, who leads their ten remaining members, said he was very disappointed by the latest defections but it would be business as usual for his group.
"I know Andy was very disappointed that Tim didn't get elected in Shirley South this month.
"Nationally I feel we made absolutely the right decision to form a Coalition and many of our policies are being implemented by the Goverment
"Our focus as Lib Dems in Solihull has not changed. We remain the second largest party and will continue to hold the ruling group to account."
The Greens say they are delighted by the turn of events - they now hold six councillors in Solihull, their largest showing in any metropolitan authority.
Coun Chris Williams (Lab, Chelmsley Wood) said: "We've grown from just one seat 12 months ago which is great news. People are starting to realise what we stand for."