The only Independent member of Oldham Council, Cllr Ian Barker, has announced that he’s rejoining the Conservatives.
Cllr Barker, who represents Failsworth West, was suspended by the party in 2009 while a police investigation took place into the alleged misuse of council e-mail accounts.
After Cllr Barker was cleared of any wrongdoing last year, Tory party bosses told him he wouldn’t be allowed to return unless he re-applied and won a vote among Oldham’s Conservative councillors. He rejected that offer, and decided to sit as an Independent instead.
Later in 2010, Cllr Barker joined the Greens, and helped their campaign in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, before subsequently leaving the party to sit as an Independent once again.
In a statement announcing his decision to move back into the Conservative fold, Cllr Barker commented: “It is fantastic to be back where I belong, in the Conservative Party.”
He added: “I am now looking forward to working with the group and local party members in continuing the progress of the Conservatives across the borough.”
Cllr Barker will be up for re-election in his ward next year. His change of allegiance takes the number of Tories on Oldham Council to five. Labour, which gained control in May’s election, has 34 members, with the Liberal Democrats on 21.