A LONG-STANDING Christchurch Liberal Democrat councillor has resigned from the party to join the Conservatives.

Deputy mayor, Cllr Peter Hall, who has been a borough councillor since 1995 and a county councillor since 1997, says his decision is for the “benefit of the residents of Christchurch”.

If his application is approved by the borough’s Conservative councillors on Friday, it will mean a total of 22 Conservative councillors out of 24 seats at Christchurch with just two Independent councillors in opposition.

And it will be the first time since 1993 there has not been a Liberal Democrat on the borough council.

Cllr Peter Hall said: “I am joining a great team of Conservative councillors who will make sure Christchurch remains an excellent borough in which to work and live.

“As I was born and bred in Christchurch I care very much about our historic town and will continue to work hard for all the people of the borough.

“By joining the Conservative Party it will enable me to work very closely with my fellow ward councillor in order to achieve so much more for our town centre residents.

“At the end of the day we are elected to serve all the residents of the borough and I feel I can best do this by being a member of the Conservative Party.”

When asked if he thought his move would anger people who had voted for him as a Liberal Democrat, he said: “I do not think they will be angry.

“As I said it would be to achieve more for the residents of the town. It is the residents I am working for.”

Cllr Ray Nottage, leader of the Conservative-led council, said: “Cllr Peter Hall wrote to me as leader of Christchurch Borough Council advising me of his resignation from the Liberal Democrat Party and his request to join the Conservative group.”

Cllr Nottage said Cllr Hall’s reasons were partly to do with the close working arrangement he has formed with town centre Conservative councillor Gillian Geary.

Independent Christchurch councillor Fred Neale said: “I do not feel it is fair for any councillor to jump ship once they have been elected by the public.

“I think it is even worse because he is going to be Mayor next year and was given the mayoralty being a non-lead party member.”

County councillor Janet Dover, leader of the Liberal Democrats at Dorset said: “Clearly I do not know the background but I feel disappointed and let down and I think that is probably how a significant number of his electorate will feel.

“I think those residents who have supported him in Christchurch as a Liberal Democrat will feel hard done by.”

• There was an outcry recently when Bournemouth councillor Derek Borthwick joined the Conservatives, days after being elected as an Independent.