A FORMER Labour mayor of Southend has defected... to the Tories.

Kursaal ward councillor Judith McMahon has joined the Conservative group on Southend Council, giving hem a majority of eight.

The councillor crossed the floor to join the Blues after resigning from the Reds in May

At the time of her resignation she sited a disillusionment with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

News of her defection was greeted with dismay by the Labour group.

Leader Ian Gilbert said: “It is surprising and disappointing after having been elected as a Labour member. The timing is odd also just after Labour got got a far better result than expected at the last election.

“She’s made the decision now and there is not much we can do about it.”

John Lamb, leader of the Conservative-led council said Ms McMahon had been warmly welcomed to the party.

He said: “She came to talk to us about it and we were pleased to see she wanted to come and join us. She was on her own as a non-aligned independent and she felt she needed to move on and join us. We were very pleased to see her do that.”

Mr Lamb added: “I got in touch with he Southend East chairman and he was happy and I put it to my group and they were happy to receive her.

“Kursaal ward used to have two Conservative councillors. Even though Judith has changed parties, she will still represent residents as well as she always has done. Her views are still the same but she has aligned herself with us.”

Keith Kelsey from the Kursaal Residents’ Association said Ms McMahon would remain a popular councillor no matter what party she attached herself to.

He said: “I think whatever she does she will do very well. She gets things done and works very hard.

“I think she didn’t believe in the policies of the Labour Party. She is a great asset to the ward and a great councillor. She’s willing to get her hands dirty.

“She does a lot for people in need. She’s great and I have a lot of time for her.”

Conservative blogger and former election candidate Daryl Peagram said: “This comes as a shock as she used to be the most vociferous opponent of the Tories in the chamber.”