UKIP move for Alan, who once served city in Labour cabinet
AN independent councillor has joined the UK Independence Party ahead of May's local elections.
Alan Graves will be defending his Alvaston seat this year.
He left Labour in May 2009, saying at the time that he felt the group had "lost the values and integrity" he believed in.
Since then, he has represented residents in the ward as an independent but has now decided to defend his seat as a UKIP candidate.
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Mr Graves said: "I thought it was important to recognise that my election was based on the aspirations of my constituents, so I remained independent on the principle that electors had voted for a Labour candidate.
"However, there are many similarities with UKIP's aims, my beliefs, and those of my constituents, so now is the right time to make a move to UKIP so that the people of Alvaston can have real choice in the local elections."
Mr Graves was first elected in 1995 and was a cabinet member in charge of leisure and culture.
He said: "People are fed up with the old parties that offer very little choice. The Conservatives have the Liberal Democrats tightly controlled and Labour has stated that spending policies will not be changed."
UKIP Derby's branch chairman, Steven Fowke, who last week welcomed former Tory Martin du Sautoy to the party, said: "As more people become familiar with UKIP's focus on making sure that constituents are properly represented, they're becoming less and less tolerant of old-style party politics."
"Alan has consistently stood up for Alvaston residents while other councillors have toed the party line."
Labour group leader Councillor Paul Bayliss said: "It won't make any difference whether Mr Graves stands for UKIP or as an independent. He betrayed the people of Alvaston in 2009 and he will lose in 2012."
Alvaston is set to be a hotly contested seat. Former Labour councillor Mark Tittley is being nominated to stand for the party in the ward while the Tories are putting up Alan Grimadell, who previously represented Chaddesden. The Liberal Democrats are also nominating a well-known former Labour councillor – ex mayor, John Ahern.
Matthew Holmes, deputy Conservative group leader, said: "Alvaston ward was always going to be a hard ward to call this year. Our campaign is going well and it's far from a given that Labour will take this ward."
Lib Dem group, leader Hilary Jones, said: "I'm surprised Alan Graves has gone to UKIP because that is quite right wing and I wouldn't expect that from someone who was a Labour councillor."