Former Labour councillor switches to the Liberal Democrats

19 Nov 2023
Councillor Usman Bhaimia, who represents Barton and Tredworth ward, becomes the 13th Lib Dem councillor on Gloucester City Council.

The Liberal Democrats have welcomed a former Labour councillor to their ranks after he quit over Sir Keir Starmer’s comments on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Councillor Usman Bhaimia, who represents Barton and Tredworth ward, becomes the 13th Lib Dem councillor on Gloucester City Council.

He formally joined ahead of a meeting of the city council on November 16.

Councillor Bhaimia had quit the Labour Party last month after Sir Keir told LBC radio that “Israel has the right” to withhold power and water from the Gaza strip.

“I am happy to rejoin the Liberal Democrat group. They are doing a great job of constructive opposition on the council and are challenging the Conservatives effectively,” Councillor Bhaimia said.

“The Lib Dems are clearly going from strength to strength. I believe the community in Barton and Tredworth will benefit from my membership of the group.”

Councillor Bhaimia has been a councillor for 20 years.

He was first elected as a Liberal Democrat but switched to Labour during the years of the Coalition.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrat’s, said: “It’s great to welcome Usman Bhaimia back as a member of the Liberal Democrat group. He is returning to his political home.

“We missed him during his time in the Labour group. Usman has always been a liberal at heart.

“We are now a group of 13 and clearly the strongest opposition to the Tories on the city council.

“Usman provides additional strength to our group, we are now a ‘Bakers Dozen’.”

The Conservatives run the administration with 22 councillors.

The Liberal Democrats are the official opposition with 13 councillors.

The remainder of the council is made up of two Labour councillors and two independents.

Councillor Hilton added: “The Liberal Democrats are the clear challengers to the Conservatives across the whole of Gloucester.

“We’ve won by-elections against the Tories in Barnwood, Longlevens and Westgate and were just 15 votes from winning in Tuffley last year.

“We’ve also won in Podsmead from Labour.

“The Conservative administration is a failed administration. They’ve run out of energy and ideas and they can’t even keep a swimming pool open.

“It’s time for a change in Gloucester.”