TWO Ribble Valley Borough Councillors have defected to the Conservative Party ahead of the election in May.

Cllr Ruth Hargreaves, who represents Edisford and Low Moor in Clitheroe has joined the party from the Lib Dems along with Independent Alston and Hothersall Ward Councillor Jim Rogerson.

The move brings the total number of Tory councillors in the borough to 35 with the Lib Dem opposition reduced to five.


The defections were announced after the Conservatives revealed its list of candidates set to contest the borough council election on May 7.

In total, seven councillors are standing down including former leader and current mayor Cllr Michael Ranson, who represents West Bradford, and former mayor Lois Rimmer from Langho.

Fellow Langho councillor Michael Thomas will also stand down with Billington and Old Langho’s Carl Ross and Cllr John Hill of Read and Simonstone.

St Mary’s councillors Kevin Horkin and Ruth Moores are also stepping down.

Cllr Hargreaves said: “As a local councillor I am passionate about issues in the community I serve.

“Recently I have become disheartened with the Lib Dems at central government level and have missed opportunities for change.”

Council leader Cllr Stuart Hirst said: “I am delighted to welcome Cllrs Hargreaves and Rogerson to the Conservative Group in Ribble Valley.

“We believe that we have an outstanding record of success in freezing tax for six years, balancing the books and maintaining our very high service standards to residents.

“I’m sure they will both bring new talents and enthusiasm to our team to help us continue to serve the people of Ribble Valley and I look forward to working with them.”

Conservative party agent for the borough, Cllr Terry Hill, said: “We now have 16 female candidates, which I think is a milestone and far outstretches any total that we have had before.”

Cllr Horkin, who is standing as an MP in Hyndburn, said: “I do not feel that I can conduct and get behind a full parliamentary campaign in Hyndburn and at the same time stand for election for a district council in a rival authority.

“I have enjoyed my time on Ribble Valley since joining in 2010 but I feel that I need to show the people in Hyndburn and Haslingden that I want to represent them fully.”

Cllr Allan Knox, the leader of the Lib Dems on the council, said: “We were in the process of discussing Cllr Hargreaves’ future with us after she voted with the Conservatives to approve their budget on Tuesday.

“I’m disappointed that Cllr Hargreaves has joined another party but I’m not surprised by her move.”