A PROMINENT Whitehaven businessman and councillor has switched his political allegiance to the Conservatives – saying he believes it will allow him to help the town move forward.

Despite missing out for the second time on becoming Whitehaven Mayor, Charles Maudling believes he has made the right decision.

Mr Maudling was nominated to chair the town council by councillor Julie Rayson at the authority’s annual meeting on Thursday – but nobody seconded the nomination.

Instead councillor Chris Hayes has been elected to the role, with councillor Raymond Gill as deputy.

Mr Hayes said: “I’m highly honoured. I was delighted to be considered. There were two good candidates. It’s really good to see."

It was the second time Mr Maudling had failed in the mayoral bid, after losing out to Brian O’Kane two years ago.

Mr Maudling, who was previously an Independent councillor, announced at Copeland Council’s annual meeting two days earlier that he had joined the Conservatives.

Following the announcement that Mr Hayes would be the next mayor, Graham Calvin, a former Labour councillor who is now an Independent on Copeland Council, said “justice had been done”.

Mike Hawkins, a Labour Copeland councillor added that Mr Hayes would be “a real asset to the town”.

However, speaking to the Whitehaven News, Mr Maudling said: “They thought I had switched to the Conservatives to try and get the mayor, which is completely untrue.

“I had the biggest honour of being chair of Copeland Council.

“I want it to move on because all we want is the betterment of the town.

"Let’s work together, like we’ve tried to do.”

Explaining why he chose to join the Conservatives, he said: “For the last seven years I’ve been on the inside of it. The opposition party seem to decry everything that (Copeland mayor) Mike Starkie is doing for the town.

“I can’t do anything as an Independent from the inside for my ward.

“If it hadn’t been for the furlough and grant schemes then I for one wouldn’t be in business.

“That’s why I have changed.

"It’s the only way I can see Copeland moving forward.”