A COUNCILLOR has defected from the Conservatives to UKIP so she is “better able to represent” the people of her ward.

Cllr Marilyn Yarnold-Forrester, who has represented the Old Town ward on Stevenage Borough Council since 2010, resigned from the Tories last week to join UKIP.

She will stand for the party when up for re-election in May 2014.

Cllr Yarnold-Forrester, who serves on the borough council’s housing select and planning committees, said: “I strongly support UKIP’s policy of withdrawal from EU membership as it has a huge effect on our authority in regard to issues such as housing, jobs and finance.

“UKIP is definitely the way forward in local government as we need new thinking and fresh ideas and I want to be a part of that. As a UKIP councillor, I am better able to represent the people of my ward.”

It is the second time a councillor has switched allegiances to UKIP on the borough council after then Stevenage Conservatives leader Marion Mason changed parties in January 2008.

She contested Woodfield ward in 2010 for UKIP but lost her seat to Conservative Graham Clark.

About Cllr Yarnold-Forrester’s own defection, Mrs Mason, who is now UKIP’s Stevenage branch chairman, said: “I know that she will be a major asset to our party. I have known Marilyn a long time and congratulate her for having the courage of her convictions and putting the people of the Old Town first.”

Cllr Clark, Stevenage Conservatives leader, told the Comet he believed the defection was due to national policies rather than local.

He added: “I wasn’t altogether surprised because I know she has had some doubts in her mind for some time. I wish her good luck.”

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor, who represents Labour, said: “I think it shows how divided the Conservative Party is on many issues at the moment. They clearly have a massive split down the middle of the party and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more defections.

“I think UKIP has little to offer in terms of local government as they’re always talking about national issues.”