AN INDEPENDENT councillor elected last Thursday on a slogan of “people before politics” has joined the Conservatives.

The revelation has left the leader of Bournemouth’s Independent councillors “totally devastated” and calling for a by-election.

Derek Borthwick was elected as an Independent in the Throop and Muscliff ward, alongside his group leader Anne Rey and veteran Independent Ron Whittaker.

Their election address, headed “People before politics,” said: “Independents are free to vote at council meetings and act on behalf of their electors and they can be depended upon to act in the best interest of the ward and the town in general without fear or favour.”

Cllr Rey said she was “totally devastated” when Cllr Borthwick told her four days after the poll that he was thinking of joining the Tories.

“We’re very angry. I said he could have stood as a Tory and been honest. He hasn’t even had the decency to call us. He has deceived his ward colleagues and residents; there should be a by-election. This is the lowest form of politics.”

A furious Cllr Whittaker said: “He’s a traitor and we will slay him. He has got in on our shirttails; he wouldn’t have got in without us. I’m disgusted.

“I’m sure residents in Muscliff and Throop will also have something to say; he has betrayed us all. This was clearly planned months ago.”

Last week’s elections left the Conservatives with 45 seats on the council, with the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independents on three seats each.

In a statement, Cllr Borthwick said he had felt “isolated” by his Independent colleagues who “both appear to support the Labour Party leader (Ben Grower) as spokesman for the opposition members.”

He added: “How can I stand in an Independent group which has two members out of three openly supporting other political candidates?

“Joining the Conservatives gives me the opportunity to put in a positive input into the running of the council, and not sitting as a lone Independent councillor. “I will continue to work hard for the residents of Throop and Muscliff and all Bournemouth residents.”

Cllr Grower said: “This is an excuse. He always appeared to side with the Tories.”