The Conservatives have moved to a narrow majority on Thurrock Council after a councillor has ‘re-joined’ the party.

Formerly independent Corringham councillor Colin Churchman has become a Conservative again, it was announced today.

The shift in allegiance from the one-time Ukip councillor means the Tories now hold the largest party on the council with 18 number of seats, over Ukip’s 17 and Labour’s 14.

Mr Churchman first stood as a Conservative candidate in 2004, before leaving to become a UKIP candidate in 2014.

He publically left UKIP to become independent in 2015 after a ‘whip’ row over planning.

Mr Churchman, who represents the Stanford East and Corringham Town ward, approached the party recently to make the request.

Conservative group leader and council leader Rob Gledhill said: “It was great for Colin to approach the group and ask to join after seeing how well we have performed in the first 100 days.”

“Colin is a former Conservative councillor and indeed a Conservative mayor renounced he is UKIP membership last year after UKIP attempted to unlawfully whip him in respect of planning decisions.

“Colin joins us after a year of being an independent councillor a year where he showed his commitment to his residents. "

“This now makes the Conservatives the largest group in Thurrock and we will continue to work with other political groups to ensure not only stability but our change program continues to ensure our residents are properly served by this council. "