Worthing councillor defects from Lib Dems to Labour

A Worthing councillor has defected from the Lib Dems to Labour.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 12:52 pm
Martin McCabe pictured with Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer

Martin McCabe, one of Tarring’s three borough representatives since 2019, will join the Labour group with immediate effect.

If Labour wins next Thursday’s Marine by-election it would have the same number of seats as the Conservatives.

Which party controls WBC could then be decided by the two remaining Lib Dems and independent Russ Cochran, who is currently suspended by the Conservatives pending an investigation.

This week Mr McCabe said: “The Conservatives both on Worthing council and nationally are in disarray. The recent sleaze scandal, to me, gets to the very heart of why people right across Worthing are losing faith with their elected representatives.

“The Conservatives are taking Worthing for granted. Enough is enough.

“Councillor [Beccy] Cooper, the leader of Labour in Worthing, has shown time and time again that she has the ideas to take Worthing forward and I could not be prouder to stand alongside her as she looks to do that.”

Asked if his decision was any reflection on the Lib Dems, he added: “With my best mate Bob Smytherman retiring from politics and me consistently finding myself agreeing with the Labour Group on Worthing Council, this move just makes sense.

“Bob and I remain best mates. And I’m excited about being able to get more things done for the residents of Tarring. It’s time to get serious about beating these complacent Tories.”

The Herald also asked if he would be stepping down to trigger a by-election so electors could decide whether or not to vote for him as a Labour candidate.

Mr McCabe replied: “The rules don’t allow for a by-election to be triggered at this point in the electoral calendar. The next local elections are taking place in May, when voters will have their say on who controls Worthing Council. I’ll be doing what I always do: knocking on people’s doors and listening to what they have to say.”

Dr Cooper added: “Martin is a dedicated and talented councillor and a tireless champion for the residents in Tarring ward. I look forward to working with him to achieve our shared goal of a better deal for the people of Worthing.”

Hazel Thorpe, acting Lib Dem group leader, said: “On behalf of our residents, we are disappointed and regret that Martin McCabe has re-joined Labour, a Party that is failing to hold the Conservatives to account or offer a real alternative, either locally or nationally.

“However, we have enthusiastic and informed individuals waiting to step up to the challenges ahead - people who are eager to serve, support and work with our community at all levels. We wish Dr Emma Norton well in the current by-election.”

Meanwhile Kevin Jenkins, leader of the council and Conservative group, felt the switch ‘totally betrays the residents in Tarring who voted for him in 2019’.

He added: “I’m sure there will be a call from those residents for him to resign his position as a councillor and for there to be a further election in Tarring next May to let the electorate decide who represents them.”