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LIB-DEM JOINS LABOUR; Conference crowned with Cllr's defection.

Byline: DAVID BARTLETT

A SENIOR Liverpool Liberal Democrat dramatically defected to the Labour party on the last day of the party's conference.

Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan (nee Williams), who represents the Mossley Hill ward in Liverpool, joined the Labour party live on stage at the closing of the conference at Liverpool's ECHO Arena yesterday.

Labour party leader Ed Miliband also thanked Liverpool for hosting the conference which he said had been a great success.

"Liverpool has been a fantastic host city and I would like to thank all the people and agencies involved in making our conference such a great success.

"Listening to people has always been at the heart of Labour Party conference and by holding conference in Liverpool many people have experienced conference for the first time.

"The city and its venues have been a fantastic backdrop for a very successful conference."

Cllr Hinnigan said she could no longer remain in a Lib-Dem party that had been part of a coalition government that had delivered huge public sector cuts to the city.

She insisted she would not be standing for re-election in May and wanted to get to know the Labour party before she put herself forward for public office again.

After a standing ovation from the conference, she said: "Nick Clegg lied. He lied to me and he lied to the people of Liverpool.

"I'm not a career politician and I will not stand for election in May. I'm not doing this because I wanted to cross the floor to get a safer seat."

"I wanted to do what was right for my children, my stepchildren and my city."

She later said she would be now be able to sleep easier at night.

The manner of her defection drew immediate anger from Liberal Democrat leader Paula Keaveney who said the wayward member had not given her the courtesy of a warning message.

The defection means Labour now have 63 of 90 seats on the city council, but some in the party are concerned it has been too quick to accept defectors.

Cllr Hinnigan joins former Lib-Dem Cllrs Gary Millar and Ian Jobling, and ex-Conservative Steve Fitzsimmons - who have joined the party since Labour took control of the town hall in 2010.

The latest defection is a blow to Cllr Keaveney, who took over the leadership of the party in May and is attempting to reunite the party after debilitating infighting that characterised the group in previous years.

"It's the height of rudeness not to give her former colleagues a small amount of notice, said Cllr Keaveney.

"I would have expected better. I was the person that signed Lynnie up to the Liberal Democrats, so it is disappointing.

"She clearly decided to do it in this way because it would cause the most damage. People have to live with their own consciences about the way they behave towards people that supported them."

MILIBAND PRAISES 'FANTASTIC' HOST CITY ED MILIBAND thanked Liverpool for staging a hugely successful Labour party conference.

The Labour leader said the city had been a "wonderful backdrop".

Businesses and hotels reported an uptake in business as 11,000 delegates descended on the city for the five-day conference. It is predicted its economic impact was worth more than pounds 15m for the city.

Mr Miliband said: "The city and its venues have been a fantastic backdrop for a very successful conference."

Liverpool Council leader Joe Anderson said the boost to city's reputation due to massive TV and press exposure was immeasurable.

He said: "You simply cannot put a price on the stunning pictures of Liverpool's waterfront which have been broadcast into millions of living rooms around the country over the last week. I am absolutely certain the Labour party will be returning to the city at some point in the not too distant future."

Stephen Roberts, deputy chairman of the Liverpool Hoteliers Association and manager of the Crowne Plaza hotel, said there was no doubt the conference was good for business: "It has been a great week for the city - there has been some fantastic coverage.

"We were fully booked on Sunday and Monday, and pretty much on Tuesday too. It was a little bit quieter on Wednesday night."

Malmaison general manager Helen Caters said: "The conference created maximum occupancy for us during this week.

"In addition, the multiplier effects have generated a substantial amount of business with repeat bookings for Christmas and leading into spring 2012."

Patrick Smith, who runs Salt House Tapas and Hanover Street Social, said: "We were delighted to look after so many MPs, delegates and reporters enjoying the flair Liverpool now has to offer in wining, dining and entertainment."

FLORENCE IS CONFERENCE TOP TALENT A LIVERPOOL teen who helped set up an enterprise centre in her community staved off competition from young people from around the country to win a special award at the Labour party conference.

Florence Watson, 18, set up the Tiber Group in Lodge Lane, Toxteth, which took over office space to help people struggling to find work to set up businesses.

She was named as a winner in the Young British Talent competition hosted by comedian Eddie Izzard.

CAPTION(S):

THANKS: Labour's Ed Miliband WINNER: FlorenceWatson DEFECTOR: Liverpool councillor Lynnie Hinnigan speaks after joining Labour
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 30, 2011
Words:877
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