Labour's local election campaign in Birmingham suffered an embarrassing setback yesterday when one of the party's city councillors jumped ship to join the Liberal Democrats.

Ann Holtom said she was disillusioned with the group's leadership, which was distant and dismissive of backbench views.

Coun Holtom, who has represented the Tyburn ward since 2002, is the third sitting councillor to swap sides and join the Lib Dems in two months.

Her decision leaves the balance of power in Birmingham finely balanced in the run-up to the May 4 elections.

There are 44 Labour councillors, 40 Conservatives, 33 Lib Dems, two Independents and one vacant seat.