ONE of Coleraine’s newest DUP councillors has defected to the Ulster Unionist Party.
William McCandless was elected as a DUP councillor to the Coleraine Central ward in May last year.
Now his move to the UUP means that the make-up of Coleraine Council chamber is DUP (8), UUP (6), SDLP (3), Alliance (2), Independents (2) and Sinn Fein (1).
In a statement, councillor McCandless said: “Decisions such as this are never easy, are viewed with personal emotion and will engender mixed feelings among the electorate.
“However, every political party has benefitted from changes in membership. I continue to be an advocate of Unionists working together on issues of common purpose and cross community co-operation with other democrats in Council.
“My convictions have never been self-interest, personal emolument or gain and I view local government as a medium to serve all the people of the Borough impartially and shall continue to do so for as long as the electorate have confidence in me.
“I will continue to extend the hand of friendship to all councillors in Coleraine Borough Council and trust that as a corporate body we can uphold individual expression and endeavour and work together for the good of all the citizens of the Borough.
“At a time when our Borough has signed up to a programme of community cohesion, we need all the co-operation and assistance we can harness in these days of austerity which pose challenges to our prosperity and well–being.
“I will continue to give the same support to Council programmes and give an assurance to the electorate that my efforts for their benefit will in no way diminish,” he said.
UUP leader, Tom Elliott, said he was “delighted” to welcome councillor McCandless to the party.
“Since being elected to the Council in May last year, William has proved himself to be a diligent councillor working on behalf of the people of Coleraine Central. I am delighted that he has decided to join the Ulster Unionist group on Coleraine Borough Council and am sure he will be a great asset to the Party.”
Alderman Norman Hillis, the leader of the Ulster Unionist grouping on Coleraine Borough Council said: “Having worked with William on the Council I am absolutely confident that he will be a great asset to the Ulster Unionist grouping and we all look forward to working with him for the benefit of everyone in the Borough of Coleraine.”