Former Tory MP Andrew Pelling defects to Labour

There was the usual to-and-fro of a Croydon Council meeting tonight, where even Tory group leader Mike Fisher was force to admit that the Conservative-led coalition government’s front-loading of cuts to local councils was too much, too soon.

But one intriguing development was the announcement that Andrew Pelling, until last May the MP for Croydon Central, had joined Labour.

Pelling was a Conservative Croydon councillor for 24 years. In 2005, Pelling stood as the Conservative candidate in Croydon Central, winning the seat from Labour by less than 100 votes. But in 2007 he had the party whip withdrawn after a series of damaging allegations about his private life.

At his own expense, he fought last May’s election as an independent, causing a three-way split in the vote with Gerry Ryan, the Labour candidate and Gavin Barwell, the Conservative who was elected to Westminster.

Pelling was spotted in the audience at last autumn Labour party conference, and has spoken out against Croydon Council’s planned cuts in spending.

But his joining them was only confirmed in the Croydon Council chamber tonight by Tony Newman, leader of the local Labour group.

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