A LIBERAL Democrat councillor has swapped allegiances to join Brentwood’s Conservative party, and he may not be the last.

Nigel Clarke announced his resignation from the Liberal Democrat party at a press conference today, Friday, where Brentwood and Ongar MP Eric Pickles hinted talks have also been held with another member of the town’s opposition party, but it is not known if they will also make the move across.

Brentwood west ward member Mr Clarke, who also runs The Hair Company, in Crown Street, said he had been considering his decision since the 2010 election and has found the Liberal Democrats are “too keen to oppose for opposition’s sake”.

He also said he could not vote the way he wanted to as a Liberal Democrat and felt he had to agree with the way the party voted on local issues.

“Being a trader in the town I’m in a position to see what the town needs having worked here for 18 years,” he said.

“I’ve seen the way we have gone with the town centre and the parking review for instance, I could not vote against it because I agreed with it totally.

“I’m a community person and just want to make Brentwood better. I feel I can help my residents a lot more working with the Conservative party.”

Councillor Louise McKinlay, leader of Brentwood Council, said she welcomes Mr Clarke with “open arms”.

“Anyone getting involved at a local level wants to leave Brentwood better than they found it,” she said.

“This has been the driving force behind the decision.”

Mr Pickles added: “I hope in a way this might be a wake up call for the local Liberal Democrats and they look to employ a more positive approach towards the town and its future.

“There’s nothing wrong with conflict but they vote against things because they don’t want to vote with the Tories. It’s wacky.”

Mr Clarke now plans to continue to build links and work alongside his Brentwood west colleagues, councillors Joan Holmes, mayor of Brentwood, and Will Russell.

For more on this story and the Liberal Democrat leader's reaction see next week's Weekly News.