A FORMER Labour councillor, who opted to be an independent representative last year, has now joined the Conservatives.

Cllr Anna-Marie Watters, who has served Westhoughton South since 2012, has joined Bolton Council’s ruling party.

She was due to stand in the local elections last year after turning independent in February 2020 but voting was cancelled due to the pandemic. If the elections go ahead in May and she is selected, residents will see her name on the ballot paper for the Tories.

Cllr Watters, a Brexiteer who campaigned alongside Conservative members in the Vote Leave campaign, says she is a long-standing Tory voter.

She said: “I have enjoyed working for the residents of Westhoughton South as an independent over the last 12 months, but what becomes increasingly apparent is being able to get things done more effectively when you are part of a larger more established party.

“Those people who know me will also know that from the age of 18 I have been a Conservative voter. My political beliefs are really central and I feel that this is where the Conservatives in Bolton sit.

“I was also a Brexiteer and believe 100 per cent in the referendum result, sometimes you have to put your head above the parapet when its something you believe in and I am more than prepared to do that moving forward.

“I have been welcomed with open arms by the members of the Conservative Party and I’m now looking forward to working with them. Although I may not always agree with some of their policies, I am sure they are more than aware that I speak from the heart to represent the people of Westhoughton South and Bolton.

"I think there is always an element of personal votes in local elections and the Conservatives got a high number of votes in the ward in the last elections so I think I would be in a good position if I was selected.”

Bolton Council leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “We welcome Anna-Marie and are delighted that she wants to join us.

"She has shown great commitment to her residents in Westhoughton South, heavily involved in that community; and together with Cllr Martyn Cox, will provide a strong Conservative presence in Westhoughton, delivering on the priorities of the Conservative administration.”

In response, Labour Party leader Cllr Nick Peel, said: “There is more to politics than your position on Brexit.  Cllr Watters voted against the Conservatives on a plethora of issues. . Now she will be supporting them. If I fell out with Labour, I would never in a million years join the Conservatives, we are poles apart.”