A POLITICIAN who left the party he helped to launch, following a row over its future, has been welcomed back into the fold.

Members of the Canvey Island Independent Party questioned county councillor Brian Wood for more than an hour before voting 18 to one in favour of having him back.

It means the party now has its first representative at County Hall.

His return came after he wrote a letter to members saying he “missed the party”. He has sat as an independent since his departure in February 2009.

Mr Wood, whose wife is deputy leader of the party, said: “When I left, I thought if I can’t change the party from the inside, I’d change it from the outside. But I now know better. You can’t do anything on your own.”

The councillor quit the party after a fallout over whether to field a candidate in the Essex County Council elections.

He has since been elected as a county councillor for Canvey, ousting Conservative Mark Howard in Canvey East.

Mr Wood said: “The main reason I left the party was that they were not interested in making any inroads on the mainland, meaning we would always be a minority party.

“I learned my lesson because I got very close to Bob Spink and I saw how much money he threw at the Independent Save Our Green Belt party.”

Former Castle Point MP Bob Spink’s party failed to win a seat despite a good showing in May’s elections.

It is not clear how much Dr Spink spent on the campaign, but according to the Electoral Commission, at the start of the year the party had £2,300 in the war chest, most of which had come from him personally.

Mr Wood said: “This has confirmed to me that unless a big pot of money was available every year, or the new coalition government becomes unpopular very quickly, we do not have much chance of getting Independents on the mainland.

“As a result, I have decided to put all my efforts into being part of a strong opposition.”

Party leader Dave Blackwell added: “I am pleased to have Brian back and pleased the party now has a county council member.”