WIRRAL councillor Oliver Adam has dropped a political bombshell by switching allegiance from Liberal Democrat to Conservative.

The 32-year-old former freelance journalist has crossed the floor of Wirral Council because of growing disillusionment with Liberal policies.

He said: "The Liberal Democrats are increasingly the left wing party in British politics. Their soft views on crime and criminals, their policy of higher tax and their anti-war statement means they have abandoned their true liberal tradition. Locally their support for closing the borough's public toilets was also a mistake."

Cllr Adam's decision brings the Tories to within five seats of Labour 26 on the hung council and reduces the Liberal Democrat representation to 18.

Tory group leader Cllr Jeff Green said Cllr Adam was an excellent addition to his team. "I am delighted to have a young, active councillor joining us. I know how hard he works for his constituents. I am also pleased that Oliver has seen that it is the Tories who are the best people to represent them.

"He is the first person to cross the floor in Wirral for a very long time."

Bedfordshire-born Cllr Adam, who marries his fiance - film student Emma Sayle, from Thingwall - on May 21, said his new allegiance should come as no surprise to Wirral Liberal Democrat group.

He said: "I would be shocked if they weren't expecting something like this. I have made it known to them for some time that I was dissatisfied. It takes a while to realise that what the Liberal Democrats say and their actual policies are two very different things.

"This has not been an easy decision and I shall continue to represent the people who elected me in June, 2004, in Pensby and Thingwall."

He is due for re-election in May, 2006.

Cllr Adam is presently studying for a master's degree in political communications at Liverpool University.

He added: "In Wirral, and the country as a whole, it is clear that the Conservatives are the only party to offer a viable alternative to New Labour."

Esther McVey, Wirral West Tory candiadte, who welcomed the councillor into the Conservative camp on Friday, said: "I appreciate how difficult a decision it has been for Oliver. He joins a dynamic and very hard-working team."

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Stuart Kelly said Cllr Adam's defection was a betrayal of the trust placed in him by Pensby and Thingwall voters.

He pledged: "We will be going all out to take the seat back when he faces re-election next year. The party is big enough to take this hiccup and we will bounce back.

"These things happen but we had no idea that Oliver had any concerns regarding the direction or the policies of the Liberal Democrat group."

"This came totally out of the blue. He had not raised any concerns with me or any other member of the group."