HOWARD Martin, former Leader of main opposition, Independent Community and Health Concern (ICHC), on Wyre Forest District Council, has joined the Labour Party.

Mr Martin, who has been a councillor since 2000, has been sitting as an Independent since the end of May, when he resigned as leader of ICHC over “internal issues”.

In 2003/4, he was Leader of the district council and he also spent four years as a Worcestershire County councillor from 2001.

His formal introduction to the Labour Party was due to take place in front of the party conference in Manchester today, when he was to be welcomed by new party Leader, Ed Miliband.

Mike Kelly, Labour group Leader on the district council, said: “The Labour Group on Wyre Forest are extremely pleased to welcome councillor Martin to our ranks.

“He has vast experience and is one of the most talented councillors serving on the council.

“We are about to embark on new and exiting times with the election of our new Leader, Ed Miliband, and Howard will play a very important role acting for the people of Broadwaters and for the whole district of Wyre Forest.”

Mr Martin said: “I am delighted to have joined the Labour Party. When I left ICHC in June, I decided to take time considering my options. Now, four months on, I am sure that the only choice open to me was the one I have made.

“I believe the Tory-run council are doing serious harm to Wyre Forest and after six years of cuts and service reduction the area needs a change, a fresh approach and new direction. Realistically, only the Labour Party offer that option.

“Since I have fought for years to retain quality public services for the community, I feel only the Labour Party now fully offers me the chance to promote and support my beliefs and protect those most in need locally.

“The election of Ed Miliband as Leader has confirmed in my mind that I have made the right decision and I hope that I can play some small part in helping to take the party forward under his leadership.”