Cllr John Tennant, who represents Jesmond ward on Hartlepool Borough Council and is chair of neighbourhoods services committee, has joined the group after previously representing the Independent Union.
Cllr Tennant, who also previously represented The Brexit Party on the council, said he has made the move due to the need for greater ‘reform in our institutions’.
He said: “This is a decision based on the need for great reform in our institutions and not a reflection of my colleagues in the coalition on our council.
“For too long, councils have been hamstrung by Whitehall and Treasury decisions that force local authorities to adopt a ‘tax more’ policy through no material fault of local authorities”.
Reform UK was previously named The Brexit Party, however the Electoral Commission approved the change early in January 2021.
Richard Tice, Reform UK’s Chairman, said he was delighted to welcome Cllr Tennant, who will be the party’s first local councillor.
Cllr Tennant added greater reform is needed in the country and hit out at funding decisions made by the Government and the impact they have had on local authorities.
He also praised the work of his colleagues in the Independent Union and Conservative coalition on the council in the face of such issues.
He said: “In a pandemic that has caused huge financial difficulties and mental health issues among others, I find it abhorrent that such high levels of Government borrowing do not go to those who most need it.
“We have all clapped in support of our excellent frontline health workers and yet the Government has decided to reduce its contribution to social care from £1billion to just £300million.
“Hartlepool has been forced to fund social care through its reserves to avoid a council tax rise for next year.
“Reform UK will continue to work with coalition partners to deliver an agenda that rebuilds public confidence in our town, our council and challenges the shortcomings of Whitehall decisions”.
Cllr Tennant was also previously a Brexit Party Member of the European Parliament for the North East between 2019 and the country’s withdrawal from the EU.
He added Reform UK has ‘every intention’ of standing candidates across Hartlepool in the local elections later this year.
Hartlepool Independent Union (HIU) has released a statement wishing Cllr Tennant well following his decision, adding they remain committed to delivering for residents in Hartlepool.
They said: “Over the weekend Councillor John Tennant informed us he would be resigning his membership of the Hartlepool Independent Union to join the Reform UK Party.
“He stated his decision is not a reflection of HIU or the wider coalition, of which he will remain part of.
“We wish Cllr Tennant well and we note that he moves alone with the future of HIU secured and committed to delivering for the residents of Hartlepool.”