A FORMER Wyre Forest Liberal councillor has been slammed as a "hypocritical snake in the grass" by the group’s leader after he quit the party to join Independent Community and Health Concern(ICHC).

Graham Ballinger switched parties on Wednesday last week as he “wanted to be on a group on [Wyre Forest District Council] which put people first and not personal ambition”.

Fran Oborski, Liberal and Independent Group Leader, however, hit out at Mr Ballinger’s decision to join ICHC as “gross hypocrisy” and said the reason he had given for leaving was a “load of rubbish”.

She claimed he “threw his toys out of the pram” after the group voted Liberal and Independent member Helen Dyke to be chairman of the district council’s scrutiny committee by five votes to two, instead of him, which Mr Ballinger denied.

“He couldn’t take the fact that the group preferred Helen Dyke,” said Mrs Oborski, “We will be a far better group without him.”

She told The Shuttle she was “shocked” Mr Ballinger joined ICHC, as she said he had “mocked” the group for being a “one trick pony” and claimed he said he was “pleased” they had lost three seats in the recent local elections.

Mr Ballinger, however, said he had never publicly been critical of ICHC.

“That’s quiet disgraceful to say that,” he said, “How can she make that assumption when she hasn’t even found out why I’ve left?”

“I’ve not been happy. The final straw was that deals were being struck behind the scenes of the Liberals.”

Mr Ballinger, who left the Liberals after three years in 1982 to join the Conservatives before rejoining again about 19 years ago, added his recent decision to leave had been coming for a while He said: “I just think you have to have faith and trust in the direction and honesty and loyalty of the group and where its going and I think that ICHC are totally independent and the interests of the people come first and not the interests of the individuals.

“I wanted to be on a group in the council who put people first and not personal ambition. I want to be here in the twilight of my career doing what I want to do and not what other people want me to do.

“I will continue to serve the electorate to the best of my ability in the way that I always have done.”

Mrs Oborski added: “He has indeed proved himself to be the hypocritical snake in the grass that the late councillor Mike Oborski warned me he was.

“I am sorry for the gullible councillors in ICHC who will discover what a viper they have taken to their bosom."

Nigel Thomas, ICHC Leader, however, said the group was “highly delighted” that Mr Ballinger had joined.

“Such a good honest person is what we want, “ he said, “He will add a lot more flair to our party.

We’re pleased that he’s joined. It shows that we’re not in decline.”

The district council now has 24 Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal and Independent Group now both have six seats.

ICHC now has five seats and there is one Independent councillor.