A COUNCILLOR has joined the Liberal Democrat party - after leaving the Cumberland Labour group last month.

The move by Cllr Chris Wills has triggered calls from the Labour Party on Carlisle City Council for a by-election for the Cumberland Council seat for Upperby.

Cllr Les Tickner, Labour group deputy leader, said: “I am saddened and disappointed that Chris has decided to abandon his Labour Party values and beliefs by joining the Liberal Democrat Party.

"I understand his disappointment at not being shortlisted recently for the Parliamentary candidacy but Chris knows that the Labour party is a democratic organisation and the shortlisting was carried out in accordance with the rules and constitution of the party.

"Those rules can only be changed democratically at conference.

"That is the way to protest. Not by resigning and joining an opposition party.

"The voters in Upperby elected a Labour candidate to represent them for the next four years in the new Cumberland authority. If they wanted a Liberal Democrat councillor to represent them, they would have voted for one.

READ MORE: Councillor quits Labour and says party has had 'difficult few years'

"I have always found Chris to be a person with integrity and standards. I think it is only right and proper that he resigns his position as councillor to allow a by-election to take place in Upperby.

"That way Chris can stand as a Liberal Democrat candidate against a Labour candidate and let the voters decide. That would be the right thing to do, the honourable thing to do."

However, Cllr Wills has said that his decision to join the Liberal Democrats was made due to his beliefs on proportional representation.

He said: "What I am prioritising is constituents and what I have chosen to do is move to a position which I think will be of the greatest benefit for the people who have voted me in.

READ MORE: New Carlisle Labour councillor for Currock and Upperby speaks after by-election victory

"When I was campaigning both for the district election and then the Upperby ward election, the biggest factor that came out from talking to people where I represent is the dissaffection and apathy with politics.

"So many people didn't want to vote, they felt that if they voted it would be a wasted vote and at the heart of that what I think we need is proprtional representation."

Councillor Wills believes that Labour leader Keir Starmer has 'made clear' he does not want proportional representation.

He said he believes the Lib Dems embody 'all the best values' of the Labour Party.

He said: "I am not moving any of my views or values but I am adding something and that is a demand from proportional representation.

"I can totally understand and respect people asking for a by-election, that's the expected responce from a political party, but I won't be having one and I will be continuing to represent the people who elected me."