Brent Liberal Democrat leader Paul Lorber says he is “shocked and saddened” at one of his councillor’s defection to Labour this morning.

Councillor James Allie, who represents Alperton, announced his switch to Labour in an open letter released this morning, in which he listed a series of damning criticisms of both Lib Dem MPs in Westminster and his former colleagues in Brent.

He singled out Cllr Lorber’s campaign to keep open six libraries in the borough after they were selected for closure by Brent Council, calling his “posturing” on the issue “an insult to the library campaigners and the people of Brent”.

But Cllr Lorber said: “I was shocked and saddened to learn of James' decision. James has been a friend and close colleague for over ten years.

“I'm very disappointed that he didn't discuss his concerns with me as we have always had a relationship where we could share our views whether we agreed with each other or not.

“I'm very proud of Brent Liberal Democrats' record in campaigning to save local libraries alongside thousands of local residents, fighting to keep historic festivals and tackling over-the-top spending by Brent Council. This is a record that James' new Labour colleagues have consistently opposed.”

Cllr Allie is a high-profile defection, having been in charge of housing when the Lib Dems held power in Brent before the 2010 General Election, where he also stood as the party’s candidate for the Brent North parliamentary seat.