A BOROUGH councillor has quit the Liberal Democrats to join Labour.

Cllr Stefan Krizanac, ward member for Westbrook, claimed his ‘heart has always been with Labour’ after revealing the shock news.

But Cllr Russ Bowden, leader of Labour-run Warrington Borough Council, says he will sit as an independent.

The politician moved to Chorley – which is around 25 miles away from Warrington – in 2017 after getting married but he works at Royal Mail’s site at Omega in the town.

He lost out in his bid to win a seat on Chorley Council for the Liberal Democrats earlier this month.

Cllr Krizanac, who has stood as a parliamentary candidate in Warrington North twice, praised former Labour leader John Smith.

He also admitted Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle played a key role in his decision.

“I have always been Labour in the heart and when John Smith was alive I admired the guy, I think he was the best Labour had,” he said.

“But when John died and Tony Blair took over it just destroyed Labour.

“I met with Lindsay Hoyle, I met him at the local elections in Chorley, and had a brief conversation with him.

“Looking into his eyes and the contact I had with him, it was very much like when you want to buy a house and know what you want and go to different houses, and each one does not meet your requirement, but then you find a little house that is perfect and is just what you want.

“That is what happened with me.”

Cllr Krizanac confirmed he has no intention to stand down in Warrington.

But he believes he will be a ‘good asset’ to Labour in Warrington, or Chorley if he was to gain a seat there in the future.

He said: “I need to speak to the local party in Warrington.

“The service to the people of Westbrook will be there, I am willing to do whatever necessary to help people in the ward.”

Leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats Bob Barr (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall) has responded to the decision.

He said: “Stefan’s commitment to his ward residents and his effectiveness as a ward councillor has never been in doubt.

“Stefan’s ‘conversion’ to centre left politics currently best represented by the Liberal Democrats by joining Labour, which is currently the party of Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum, is puzzling.

“Nevertheless, I would like to pay tribute to Stefan’s contribution to our party locally, regionally and nationally.

“While I can’t pretend to understand his decision, I respect the personal choice he has made.”

Cllr Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) said Cllr Krizanac has not spoken to him about the situation, or asked to join Warrington’s Labour group.

He added: “Our party rules apply to him the same as they would to anyone else on probation and he will sit as an independent councillor.

“Stefan lives in Chorley and so has no future as a Labour councillor here in Warrington.”

Labour’s selection meeting for the 2020 all-out elections takes place next month, with Cllr Krizanac too late to be considered to stand as a Labour candidate in the town next year.