A FORMER Mayor has dramatically defected to the Labour party after becoming disillusioned with Government policy on benefits and budget cuts.

Mohammad Bhatti decided the time had come to leave the Conservative Party because they had not done enough to help underprivileged people in Chesham.

And he hopes his move to another party will spell the end of Tory dominance in the town where he was Mayor in 2004-5.

Cllr Bhatti, who has served on Chiltern District Council since 1999, told the Bucks Free Press: "I'm not happy with the way the Government is running business. Their policies have wasted a lot of money, especially on transport and HS2.

"They are squeezing budgets for health and education and cutting down on benefits.

"In this area there are a lot of poor people and it's difficult for them to live on these benefits, and they are cutting down on them.

"There are no jobs in this area and many people are frustrated. I think the Conservatives and the Coalition should find a way to satisfy people."

He added the Liberal Democrats are just as much to blame as his former party for the current financial malaise affecting the country.

Cllr Bhatti, who was awarded the MBE for services to local Government and the community in the last New Year's honours, said: "The Lib Dems have done so much damage to students with university fees. They have broken their promises and people are disappointed.

"They are in the Coalition as well - they are both to blame."

He becomes the only Labour politician sitting on Chiltern District Council, where he represents the Newtown ward, and Buckinghamshire County Council, where he has the Chesham East seat.

Cllr Bhatti said: "They have had no councillors and no representation on the council for many years.

"I feel there's a lot of Labour people who are demoralised they don't have any leadership in this area.

"This is a time for change and to come out and help the Labour party to establish themselves in this area. I hope they can flourish in this area.

"I've met a lot of people who are sympathisers but felt there's no strong candidate to fight their corner."

His daughter Rabia is a Conservative member of Chesham Town Council, but he said: "We have a policy not to discuss politics at home. She will carry on with the Conservative party and I will carry on with the Labour party."

Cllr Bhatti's defection means there will need to be a rejig of who sits on Chiltern District Council's many sub committees.

The number of seats the Conservatives are entitled to hold across all the committees will reduce from 100 to 98 because of a change in the political balance of the authority. The alterations are due to be discussed at the next meeting of the full council next Tuesday.