A CONSERVATIVE defector has joined the Liberal Democrats after crossing the floor during a council meeting.

Andy Kingston-James, a former Tory member representing Minehead north, ditched his blue colours at a meeting of West Somerset Council on Wednesday, February 20.

He joins three other councillors in the Lib Dem party as he makes his move to express his views with 'freedom'.

“I have joined the Liberal Democrats as their core beliefs in community and openness in politics are in parallel with mine," said Cllr Kingston-James.

"This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but the freedom to express my views and contribute to the bigger picture is important to me. I look forward to working with the local team for the benefit of Minehead and the new district council."

The yellow party had no representatives on the council is the last elections in 2015, but now there are four ahead of the next set of elections set to take place in May.

Peter Pilkington was elected to represent Dunster and Timberscombe in the March 2017 by-election. Benet Allen won Minehead South in the February 2018 by-election and cllr Nicole Hawkins was elected in the June 2018 by-election for Alcombe ward.

West Somerset Council will cease to exist later this year, as will Taunton Deane Borough Council, as the new Somerset West and Taunton Council is created.

Councillor Peter Pilkington, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on West Somerset District council, said: “I welcome the addition of Andy Kingston-James to our group. Having been elected in March 2017 as the sole Lib Dem on the council, to finish this May with four Lib Dems bodes well for democracy in West Somerset. I feel that with both the main parties disintegrating into chaos, fighting their own internal extremism, we shall be attracting more pragmatic sensible and rational people to the party with our values of creating a community in which 'none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity'.

“This is a great day for the Liberal Democrats," Parliamentary Spokesman Councillor Benet Allen.

"We welcome Andrew on board and we are sure he will feel at home with us. We Lib Dems are proud to work together as a united party with well thought-out policies for the people of West Somerset."