TORY defector Phil Eassty has been warmly welcomed by his new Labour colleagues on Warrington Borough Council, while leaving members of the opposition Conservative group “confused.”
In a shock move, Cllr Eassty, who was elected to represent the Conservative Party on Warrington Borough Council at Rixton & Woolston last May, announced he was joining the Labour Group on Monday night at Full Council.
A Conservative group spokesperson said: “The residents of Rixton and Woolston gave a clear mandate that they no longer wanted to be represented by Labour when they ditched them and elected two Conservative Councillors in May 2021. Whilst considering his position, Cllr Eastty should have done the right thing and called for a by-election instead of jumping ship to another Party. That way the residents of the ward could have had their say.
“The irony is his announcement came on the night that the Labour Party in Parliament reinforced their support for the Golborne Link, a project that the Conservative Government has pledged to remove from HS2.
“Cllr Eastty campaigned in 2021 on a pledge to support the removal of the link which will devastate the village of Rixton he represents. We’re sure this U-turn will lead to some very interesting doorstep conversations as to his position.
“He has also been a staunch Brexiteer in a constituency that voted leave and has now gone to the Party who want to try and take us back into the European Union.
“We’re as confused as anybody else by his actions and it’s really important for the avoidance of doubt that he conveys his policies now to the people of Rixton & Woolston.”
Meanwhile, Labour group leader Cllr Russ Bowden has warmly welcomed Cllr Eastty to the Labour Party saying: “This situation has moved quickly over the last couple of weeks with a number of conversations that I have had with Cllr Eastty. He is the best person to tell of his experience within the Conservative Group and I am sure that he will do that when he is ready.
“Suffice to say that it is now obvious that the appalling behaviour of the Conservatives isn’t just confined to the Council Chamber, but also extends to their own group. They may have a new leader, but nothing has changed.
“I’m a firm believer that all members of our Council and of all parties are elected to serve their residents and that we are stronger collectively when everyone plays a role to their full potential. It is clear that Cllr Eastty has been marginalised by the Conservatives since last May, excluded from committees and now removed from the Cheshire Fire Authority against their wishes.
“From our discussions, it is obvious that Cllr Eastty is particularly passionate about children’s services and achieving the best outcomes for young people in Warrington. Our children in care are not political weapons. It is clear that we have many shared values.
“Labour Group members greeted Cllr Eastty with warmth on Monday night. We look forward to working with him in delivering for Warrington and helping him to best serve the residents of Rixton & Woolston as part of our Labour administration.”
Cllr. Eassty was contacted for comment by phone and email but has yet to respond.