A Hartlepool councillor has joined the Conservative Party, after previously representing the Independent Union.

Hartlepool Conservative Association announced Coun Tom Cassidy, Hart ward representative, has officially joined the Conservative Party.

He joins the three existing Conservative councillors on the council, who are working in coalition with the Independent Union.

Coun Cassidy said he planned to stand as a Conservative in the local elections this year, before they were postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: “I intended to stand as a Local Conservative in the upcoming elections this May, however, because of Covid-19 and the challenges it has brought, the elections didn’t happen.

“I’ve made no secret I am a true Brexiteer and have supported Boris Johnson’s delivery of Brexit.

“What we can now see is that the Conservatives have shown they can deliver regardless of how tough things get – and will continue to do so for Hartlepool and the country.”

Coun Cassidy had previously returned to representing the Independent Union earlier this year after a stint with The Brexit Party.

Existing Conservative councillors in Hartlepool said they were happy for Coun Cassidy to be joining them.

Coun Mike Young, deputy council leader, said: “It is always an extremely positive sign when councillors from other parties and political groups see the Conservative Party as a real and viable option for the Borough.

“Coun Tom Cassidy is an exceptional campaigner and has been a solid Councillor for the Hart Ward.

“In his comments to me he expressed how he could ‘see that even today, the very real and direct action at a time of crisis how our leaders have navigated the challenges with purpose.'”

Coun Brenda Loynes said: “Tom was clear after the General Election in December 2019 that he could see that the country had preferred the positive message for Brexit and the country from Boris Johnson.

“We are pleased to now be able to work as a party of 4 within the coalition for the benefit of Hartlepool residents.”

A statement from Hartlepool Independent Union said they had become aware Coun Cassidy intended to stand as a Local Conservative in the planned May 2020 local elections, and thanked him for his hard work.

It said: “With this information, we gave Coun Cassidy an ultimatum to either stay and represent the Independent Union in May 2021 or join the Conservatives if he still intended to stand as a Local Conservative.

“Coun Cassidy stated he had intended to stand as a Conservative and regardless of the delay in local elections, he felt it wouldn’t be right to remain in a party that he intended on leaving.

“While we are very saddened to see the departure of Coun Cassidy, we would like to thank him for his hard work and support and wish him well in the future.

“Meanwhile, the Hartlepool Independent Union will continue to work hard together for the good of our town.”