A former Hartlepool Conservative stalwart has defected to UKIP.
Shane Moore has been a close part of the Conservative party in Hartlepool for a number of years.
The 32-year-old was formerly deputy chairman of Hartlepool Conservatives, regional chairman (North East) of Conservative Future, and, a member of the party’s national convention.
He has also previously stood for election to Hartlepool Borough Council as a Conservative candidate.
Mr Moore says he joined UKIP, which came second in May’s general election in Hartlepool, after becoming “disillusioned” with the Conservative party.
He stood as an independent candidate in the recent local elections for the Headland and Harbour ward, but came second to Labour’s Sylvia Tempest.
Mr Moore, who is from the West View area of town, said: “I had become incredibly disillusioned with the Conservative Party in Hartlepool, as they have now, to all intents and purposes, become an extension of the Labour Party.
“There is no longer any desire from their local councillors to make a positive difference to the town, and to the people who proudly live here.
“It became very clear to me during the recent election campaign that only UKIP have the vision to make real changes in Hartlepool and have the commitment, policies and drive to ensure positive change comes about for all.”
He said shared UKIP’s desire for change in the town and also within the political make up of Hartlepool Borough Council.
At a recent Extraordinary General Meeting of the party, Mr Moore was elected as the UKIP Hartlepool Branch Vice Chairman.
He added: “I am delighted to have been invited to serve and to be duly elected on to the branch committee.
“I thank all those members who have put their trust in me and I look forward to using my previous experience to help build the local branch into the political force.”
Hartlepool Conservative constituency chairman Ray Martin-Wells, said: “I’m saddened that Shane reacted in the we he did after losing his bid to become deputy chairman of our association on March 18 this year.
“I feel sure that had Shane been successful in that bid he wouldn’t be commenting in the same way today.” Speaking as Conservative group leader on Hartlepool Borough Council, Councillor Martin-Wells refuted claims the party was simply an extension of the Labour group.
Coun Martin-Wells added: “As Conservatives we have always fought for the best interests of the electorate we represent and if that means agreeing with any political group then we wouldn’t hesitate to do so.”