An independent Isle of Wight councillor has jumped ship — resigning from the Alliance group which runs County Hall, and joining the Liberal Democrats.

Cllr Michael Lilley has been a member of the Alliance group since its creation, in May 2021.

The representative for Ryde Appley and Elmfield has said he is "looking for the opportunity to support" the Liberal Democrats in the next general election.

He now joins fellow Isle of Wight councillors Andrew Garratt and Nick Stuart to make a party of three — the third biggest, behind the Alliance Administration and the Conservatives, both holding 16 seats.

Cllr Garratt, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “It’s been obvious he has always tackled issues in a liberal way, working with residents and communities to understand what matters and affects them most, and campaigning for change.

“Nick and I look forward to working with Michael on pressing for action to tackle poverty; providing truly affordable to rent and buy housing; promoting green economic development; and protecting and enhancing our Island’s environment.”

Cllr Lilley thanked the Alliance and local residents for helping him realise his beliefs and values are firmly liberal.

The 65-year-old called it a full circle moment because he started out supporting the Liberal Democrats and MP Stephen Ross, in 1974.

The outgoing Ryde Mayor says residents were unanimously in favour of his move.

Cllr Lilley joined the Isle of Wight Council in 2017 and has previously been a representative for The Green Party and a member of the two-person 1957 Group, alongside Cllr Geoff Brodie.

He said: “I will continue to serve Ryde Appley and Elmfield to my best abilities and continue to work with and listen to my residents and residents of Ryde and the Isle of Wight.”