A former Mayor of Epsom and Residents’ Association councillor has crossed the floor to join the Conservative party after failing to be selected as RA candidate for the next local elections.

Nigel Petrie MBE, county councillor for Epsom and Ewell North East and borough Councillor for Nonsuch ward, joined the Conservative party after 22 years serving as a borough councillor and eight years as Surrey County councillor.

This weekend thousands of leaflets issued by the Conservative party were delivered across his county division telling residents of his decision.

Coun Petrie said: “If they had selected somebody who I thought was going to do a good job then I would have welcomed that. These days the Conservatives are our only viable alternative.

“We should be seen to support our MP (Chris Grayling) because he is a very good shadow home secretary and he should have the support of the local area that he represents.”

A statement from Stoneleigh and Auriol Residents’ Association said the sponsoring body for residents’ association county council candidates in Epsom and Ewell decided not to re-select Nigel Petrie as the RA candidate for the forthcoming Surrey County Council elections. Instead, they have nominated Councillor David Wood as candidate.

RA President and Chairman, Bill Slaughter, issued the following statement: “Although his defection comes as no real surprise to SARA officers who know Nigel Petrie, perhaps the only disconcerting factor is that, despite having been elected to represent residents on a non-party political basis, he has opted to join the very same national political party that is making such an appalling mess of running Surrey County Council.”

Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell, said: “I am delighted that Nigel has decided to move over to join the Conservatives. This is a hugely important time for us both as a country and as a party, and the stronger our team gets, the better placed we will be to deliver the changes everyone wants.

“Nigel is a very experienced man, who has been a very active part of the community for many years, and he will be a huge asset to my local team.”