TWO former Wyre Forest councillor colleagues have become embroiled in an extraordinary row after new Kidderminster Mayor Mike Price defected from the Liberals to the ruling Conservative party.
Wyre Forest district councillor Mr Price, 62, told The Shuttle the move was down to “personal reasons” and had been coming for a “long time”. He denied Liberal Fran Oborski’s claim the decision was down to a Liberal and Independent group leadership row.
It means the council make-up is now Conservative: 16, Labour: 9, Independent Community and Health Concern: 7, UK Independence Party: 5, Independent: 4, Liberal: 1.
The move does not affect the Conservatives and the Liberal and Independent group’s 21-member alliance to run the council’s political administration.
Mr Price, who represents Offmore and Comberton ward, said: “I have been thinking about it for a considerable amount of time. It was not just about the leadership, as it had been coming for a long time. There are personal reasons. Several things have made my mind up and I am quite happy to be part of the Conservative group.”
It comes just two weeks after he was elected mayor and a week after he praised “friends” Mrs Oborski and her late husband Mike Oborski in The Shuttle.
Mrs Oborski, now the council’s sole Liberal, launched a stinging attack on her former colleague, saying she believed he “started sulking” when the Liberal and Independent group leader position went to Independent Helen Dyke instead of him.
“If he thinks that is an appropriate way to behave I pity the people of Kidderminster having him as their mayor,” she said. “Mike Price does not know the meaning of the word friend or loyalty - he sickens me. The Tories are welcome to him if that is the way he wants to behave. I thought he was a trustworthy friend but it turns out he never was.”
Mr Price denied the decision was down to the leadership issue and said the attacks were “Mrs Oborski’s opinion”.
Conservative group leader Marcus Hart said: “I am delighted to welcome him into the Conservative group from the Liberal group.”
He added: “I think he feels the Conservative party offers the best deal for Wyre Forest residents. We had a strong group before and now we have another member and look forward to working with the Liberal and Independent group.”
Mrs Oborski added Mr Price should stand for re-election. Mr Hart and Mr Price, however, said he would be up for election again next May. Mr Hart added: “Politicians across the political divide have switched parties and inevitably they have to stand for re-election and if they are a good councillor they will get re-elected.”