Green leader at Norfolk County Council joins Tories

Philip Hardy, 37, councillor for Thorpe Hamlet ward in Norwich
Image caption Philip Hardy, 37, is councillor for Thorpe Hamlet ward in Norwich

The leader of the Green Party group on Norfolk County Council has defected to the Conservatives.

It is thought to be the first time a Green politician has moved across to the Tories.

Philip Hardy, 37, councillor for Thorpe Hamlet ward in Norwich, said: "This has been a very difficult decision to make but I feel it is the right one for me."

The Green Party in Norfolk said it was "shell-shocked" and saddened by the news.

Mr Hardy said he had found himself alone on a growing number of issues within the Green Party.

'Inspired by Cameron'

He said he was particularly attracted by the Conservatives' policies on deficit reduction and the NHS and impressed by the way the local council had tried to protect public services in Norfolk.

He said he was also proud when the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron "inspired" the international community to intervene in Libya earlier this year.

Mr Hardy was elected as county councillor for Thorpe Hamlet ward in Norwich in June 2009 and became the first Green member of the Norfolk Police Authority.

At the 2009 elections, the Green Party won seven of the 13 county council seats in Norwich and became the third largest party overall.

Marcus Hemsley, acting group leader for the Green Party, said: "I'm very sad he's decided to leave and wished he'd come to talk to me about it first."

Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi said: "I am delighted to welcome Councillor Hardy to the Conservative Party.

"He joins a team of Conservatives protecting frontline services and working hard for Norfolk.

"Philip brings invaluable expertise in environmental issues and is a fantastic addition to our team of councillors."

Mr Hardy's move brings the number of the Conservative Group to 63 members - the largest any political party has ever achieved in the history of Norfolk.

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