WORCESTER'S controversial outgoing mayor has joined the Conservatives - almost one year to the day since he dumped the Labour Party.

Councillor Alan Amos, who was a Tory MP for Hexham between 1987 and 1992, has officially signed up to the city's Conservatives, strengthening the party's grip at the Guildhall.

After handing over the chains as Mayor to Councillor Roger Knight he took his seat among the Tory benches for the first time during tonight's full council meeting - during which both the major parties took pops at each other.

Labour leader Councillor Adrian Gregson accused the Conservative leadership of being "unable to lie straight in bed" while Tory Councillor Simon Geraghty, the city's leader, joked that he'd welcome more councillors joining his party, saying Labour politicians were welcome to cross the chamber.

During tonight's meeting he was rewarded further by the Tories after being selected as the new chairman of the city's planning committee - a vitally important role. 

It means his first job will be this Thursday, chairing the meeting tasked with making a decision over 200 homes at Middle Battenhall Farm.

Councillor Amos converted to Labour in the 1990s after he left Parliament and was elected to Worcester City Council in 2008 for the first time, representing Warndon.

After a fall-out with the party last year he announced he had quit to become an independent, using his vote to dump Labour from control at the city council in favour for a Tory administration, who then made him city mayor in return.

This afternoon, just hours before he is due to hand over his mayoral chains with his 12-month term expiring, he confirmed he'd joined the Tories.

The move prompted anger from the city's Labour group leader Adrian Gregson, who said Councillor Amos has "abandoned the people of Warndon".

Councillor Amos this afternoon refused to answer any questions on whether he would stand again in Warndon next year, when he is up for election.

But he did issue a statement saying he would still "assiduously" look after the people of Warndon despite his switch of allegiance.

It said: "As I said when I was elected to the office last June, I have always striven as mayor to act independent of party politics while undertaking my duties.

"However, it is now time for me to return to my primary duties of assiduously looking after the best interests of my constituents in Warndon and Gorse Hill, as I have always done.

"With one year left on my term of office, I have been considering how I can best use my energies to push forward those things that matter to my constituents.

"Tackling anti-social behaviour, keeping the streets clean and tidy and building fantastic new public facilities such as the swimming pool have all been identified as priorities of this administration and are ones that I support.

"I have also been impressed by the efficient way the administration has run the council and delivered improved services while implementing its vision for the city."

He said the move was done "after much thought" about "the best way I can serve the city", insisting he would show the public "the same dedication and commitment" as a Tory.

But Councillor Gregson said: "It's a culmination of what he started last year, but at that time he didn't have the courage to do it.

"This is entirely self-motivated, he's abandoned the people of Warndon and his reward will be a safe Tory seat next year.

"What are the public supposed to think, that everything he said before (when he was a Labour councillor) was total nonsense?"

It takes the size of the ruling Conservative group at the Guildhall to 19 councillors, compared with 15 Labour and one Green.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the Conservative leader of the city council, this afternoon insisted it was a victory for his administration.

He told your Worcester News Councillor Amos had been won over by his leadership’s “sound financial management” and programme for the city.

“Alan Amos has joined the Conservative group on the city council, he’s a hard-working local councillor and has always spoken up for the people of Worcester,” he said.

“We welcome him in. Now he’ll be serving the residents of Warndon as a Conservative councillor.” 

* More will follow on this story tomorrow with the full details of tonight's meeting - including changes to the Conservative cabinet.