A Labour councillor on Croydon Council defected to join the Tories at a full council meeting earlier this week.
Councillor Greta Sohoye has represented Bensham Manor ward for since 2002 but will now reinforce the ruling Tories’ control of the borough.
Cllr Sohoye told the meeting she had made the decision to switch sides after a speech made by Tory councillor Gavin Barwell at a recent community cohesion conference.
She said she felt marginalised by Croydon’s Labour leader Tony Newman and other local party members. Cllr Sohoye is the second Labour member to defect to the Tories since March 2008, when Thornton Heath councillor Mike Mogul switched sides.
The latest defection will be a blow for the group ahead of next year’s local and general elections.
Cllr Newman said: “Councillor Sohoye has betrayed the trust of loyal colleagues and more importantly the electors of Bensham Manor. At the ballot box the residents of Bensham have made it clear that they want to be represented by a Labour Councillor and not this Tory turncoat.
“That is why today we are calling on Councillor Sohoye to resign with immediate effect and let the people decide who they wish to represent them.”
Labour also claims that Cllr Sohoye was deselected due to her poor performance as a councillor, coupled with local concern about “her regular visits to Korea and her meetings with Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the Moonies, also known as The Unification Church.”
However Cllr Sohoye rejected these claims. She said: “I decided to join the Conservatives because I saw that of recent days their printed material, in their speeches and in practices their Policies and Principles in Croydon were progressive, responding to the current times and with a futuristic aspect to them.”
Cllr Sohoye claimed that the decision to defect was only made recently. she said: “So far as going to the conservative group, I have only thought of that since last Wednesday, December 2, when I read the council Meeting Agenda and Papers.”