A Bradford councillor has switched to Labour after quitting the Tories following a race row over the selection of the next Lord Mayor.

Arshad Hussain (Toller) resigned from the Conservative group more than a week ago after he failed in his bid to be selected as the district’s first citizen. He had expected to be successful in the secret ballot as he was the longest-serving candidate.

But Coun Hussain has now announced he will sit with Labour on Bradford Council.

The move leaves both groups with 36 councillors on the 90-seat Council.

He said: “My first priority as a politician is to serve the people of Toller to the best of my ability. I also have a responsibility to take a view about the way in which the district is being led.

“Over recent years the Council has been run more and more like a personal empire. Too often decisions have been made purely on the basis of personal political interests rather than doing the right thing for the district.

“After a period of deep reflection I have concluded that the Labour Party is best placed to secure the improvements that I want to see for Toller and for the district as a whole.”

Councillor Ian Greenwood, leader of Labour group, said: “It has become clear to many people, including myself, that Arshad has become increasingly disillusioned by the direction taken by the Conservative group over recent years.

“He has always been a hard-working, conscientious and diligent councillor and I have no doubt whatsoever that he will bring that same dedication, commitment and service to the Labour Party.

“I look forward to working with him on behalf of the people of Toller and Bradford district.”

Councillor Kris Hopkins, Council leader and leader of the Tory group, responded to Coun Hussain’s comments about his leadership by saying: “Just a few weeks ago, Coun Hussain sought selection as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Bradford East.

“He followed this up with an attempt to be chosen as the Conservative nominee as Lord Mayor of Bradford, and then Deputy Lord Mayor. “His failure to be voted into any of these positions resulted in his outrageous, unfounded and deeply offensive allegations of racism and, now, his apparent conversion to socialism.

“I am sorry to say that his motivations throughout have been based entirely on ‘personal political interests’ and ‘doing the right thing’ for himself, not for Bradford district. My Conservative colleagues and I will therefore take no lectures from Coun Hussain.”

In December Coun Hussain accused the Tories of discrimination when he lost the ballot for Lord Mayor to Councillor Peter Hill (Con, Worth Valley). He also lost out on the deputy role to Councillor Mohammed Jamil, who becomes the first Asian Conservative to take on a civic role in the district