The chairman of Three Rivers District Council has left the Labour party after being told he “no longer fitted the criteria” of a councillor.

Now, Ron Spellen, who has been a Labour member for 50 years and was also the leader of the party in the district council, will defend his Northwick seat in May’s local elections as a Liberal Democrat.

Another South Oxhey Labour councillor, Phil Redshaw, has also been told he will not represent the Labour party at the next election, and has chosen to resign from politics.

Councillor Spellen said: “I received a letter from the Labour party saying I no longer fit the criteria for a Labour councillor.

"They said they don't have a use for me any more. I feel I still have a lot more usefulness left in me for the citizens of Three Rivers and South Oxhey.

“It's a weight off my shoulders because I was carrying that party, at the last council meeting the other two councillors didn't say a word.”

With the exit of both Mr Spellen and Mr Redshaw, the only Labour councillor left at the district council is Stephen King, who does not face re-election until three years' time.

Councillor Redshaw said: “The Labour party have refused to let me stand, it was a democratic process, they had a vote last night and decided not to vote me in.

“I will not be standing for election at all, I won't move across to the Liberal Democrats, the offer was made but I will not be moving.

“Certainly some of my colleagues in the area are very surprised, obviously I've said something wrong to someone.

“I've got a lot less work to do now, it will let me get on with things I had hoped to do, I'll still be in the area working but not as a councillor.”

Councillor Spellen said he had been part of the Labour party since moving to England in 1962.

He added: “Today’s Labour party is not the party I joined so many years ago. The negative attitude has been weighing me down. I have not left the Labour party, the Labour party has left me.

“I have lived in South Oxhey for more than 30 years and, having been deeply involved in the local community here, know the area and its residents very well.

“The Government has a difficult job to do as a result of the mess left by the previous Labour government, and I think they are doing a good job under difficult circumstances.

“I'm not moving because of the Government, I'm a local politician and I am motivated by doing what I believe is best for the people of South Oxhey."

Councillor Spellen's wife Nena, a former Labour councillor and council chairman, will also be standing for election as a Liberal Democrat.

Liberal Democrat leader of Three Rivers District Council, Ann Shaw, said: “Ron has always worked tremendously hard to represent the residents of South Oxhey.

“This year he has served the council well as its chairman. We welcome Ron to the Liberal Democrat group and look forward to working together”.