A FORMER UKIP parliamentary candidate in Worcestershire has ditched the party and joined the Lib Dems, it has emerged.

Caroline Bovey, a staunch activist for Nigel Farage for several years in and around Malvern, has announced that she has switched allegiance.

Miss Bovey, a freelance writer, stood for the West Worcestershire seat in the last two General Elections, increasing her share of the vote to 2,119 in 2010.

She has now joined the Liberal Democrats, citing concerns over UKIP's popularity in the area as she wants to get onto the district council in May.

The Lib Dems have described it as a real coup, saying the defection is a sign of weakness in UKIP ranks.

But Richard Chamings, the current UKIP parliamentary candidate for West Worcestershire, she she wants a "ticket onto the council" and has let down the voters who backed her previously.

She has been selected to contest the Pickersleigh ward in May's local elections.

She said: "The Liberal Democrats have a proven track record in Malvern and years of experience working for the Pickersleigh community.

"I am very much looking forward to being a part of the team that builds on that in the future."

Councillor Tom Wells, the leader of Malvern's Lib Dems, said: "We are all delighted to welcome Caroline Bovey to our team.

"She is a vastly experienced politician and will be an excellent councillor."

Mr Chamings rubbished any claims of it being a setback, saying she has not been active within UKIP ranks for some time.

He also said he believes support for the party is growing.

"You have to ask yourself what these people actually truly believe in, do they have genuine convictions or do they just want a ticket onto the council," he said.

"She has nothing to do with UKIP, the last General Election was five years ago and she hasn't been a member for a long time.

"Our campaign is going very well indeed."

Miss Bovey added: "It wasn't an easy decision, all the parties have good points but I just felt the Liberal Democrats have a real insight into local issues, and a lot of experience and dedication.

"The bottom line is, of course I want to get onto the council."

The UK Independence Party is fielding candidates in all six Worcestershire parliamentary seats this May, and is also signing up dozens of council candidates across the county.