A COUNCILLOR has rocked the Liberal Democrats by quitting the party a fortnight before crucial local elections – sparking a furious reaction from his former leader.

Abdul Rehman, who represents Corporation Park on Blackburn with Darwen Council, said he had now applied to join Labour.

He said he made the decision because he was embarrassed by the government cuts and national Lib Dem ‘broken promises’.

Coun Rehman is not among those up for election on May 5, but his defection could sway the vote in his ward, where Labour is facing a straight fight with the Conservatives.

Coun Rehman, who was elected in 2004, blamed his decision on the scale of spending cuts being forced on the council by the coalition government.

But Lib Dem leader David Foster, who is now down to eight councillors, said Coun Rehman had been on the verge of being thrown out of the group.

He added: “Coun Rehman has not produced any leaflets for his ward and has a poor attendance record at local community meetings. He was very likely to have been kicked out of the group after the local elections and would not have been reselected to fight for the party in 2012.”

In a written statement, Coun Rehman said: “Over the last few months it has been difficult not to feel embarrassed by the long list of Liberal Democrat broken promises but the severity and unfairness of the government cuts, for me, is the final straw.”

He then told the Lancashire Telegraph he had to put his ward first and defended his attendance record, saying he had held regular surgeries.

Labour leader Kate Hollern said Coun Rehman had shown ‘integrity’ with his decision and said Lib Dems should be ‘embarrassed’ by the record in government.

In 2009/10, Coun Rehman attended three of five full council meetings, a third of licensing committees and 91 per cent of planning meetings.