BOURNEMOUTH’S sole Ukip councillor has joined the Conservative Party, increasing their majority to 50.

Cllr Laurence Fear, elected to represent the purple-ribboned Eurosceptic party in Kinson South in 2015, said he believed that with Brexit accomplished he could do more for residents as a member of the ruling group.

“Over the last year of increased and necessary cooperation with the grassroots of the Conservative Party I have built many productive and fruitful relationships,” said Cllr Fear, who was elected aged 21.

“During this time I have found that since the triggering of Article 50, that my beliefs are closer to that of the Conservative Party and that I can be more effective as a Conservative Party member in furthering the needs of the residents in my ward.

“I would like to thank my residents for their continued support and I wish to assure them that the principles I was elected on shall not change.”

He praised his former party for their “indispensable contribution” to Brexit, adding: “It has been an honour”.

A member of UKIP for seven years, Cllr Fear also predicted that it would be “quite hard” for the party in Dorset in future.

Perhaps surprisingly, the vice-chairman of UKIP Bournemouth West Martin Houlden seemed to agree.

“We have been very proud and lucky to have had such a hard working councillor as Laurence, and I know he will continue to do his absolute best for his residents,” he said.

Asked about Cllr Fear’s comments he said: “I think there is probably an element of truth to that, but I wouldn’t write us off totally just yet, especially in the north of England.”

He said UKIP was “one of the most successful parties in history”, and on whether it will field candidates in Bournemouth at the next election he said: “We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

“There are always a lot of people interested in becoming a councillor. We have to make sure they are genuinely committed to us.”

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns welcomed the news. He said: “I have seen the energy Laurence brings to representing the people of Kinson South and am therefore delighted he will be putting that energy at the disposal of the Conservative Party.”

David Sidwick, chairman of Bournemouth West Conservative Association, said: “We are a broad church as a party and anyone that espouses our new vision for Britain, outside the EU but within Europe as a global nation is welcome.

“The triggering of Article 50 has in many ways removed the raison d’etre for UKIP and those of its members that feel they are at heart Conservatives are more than welcome to join us.”

Council and Conservative group leader John Beesley today said he was “delighted” Cllr Fear had crossed over.

“Now that the Prime Minister triggered Article 50, Laurence has decided to leave UKIP and join the Conservative Party,” he said.

“I know that he will find a warm welcome with the Conservatives and that his principles will be reflected through our policies both locally here in Bournemouth and nationally in government.

“This council will continue to do all it can in serving the residents of Kinson South, with Laurence as the third member of the Conservative team in the ward he was elected to serve.

“Members of the Conservative group on Bournemouth council will have the opportunity to endorse Laurence as a member of the group at their next meeting on Monday, April 24.”