The man who became Bitterne Park's "first-ever" Labour councillor in 2022 has been expelled from the party.

Tony Bunday, who was re-elected in May, said he was kicked out for "liking" two social media posts featuring a Labour Party stalwart who has become an Independent councillor in Portsmouth.

Cllr Bunday will sit as an Independent on Southampton City Council but intends to continue supporting Labour.

READ MORE: Labour take control of Bitterne Park ward in Southampton for the first time

Revealing his expulsion in an open letter to party members and residents, he said the posts concerned Cllr Cal Corkery, who has also had his membership of the Labour Party terminated.

Cllr Bunday described himself as an extensive networker who "connected" with other Labour supporters across the region.

He added: "I regularly, almost automatically, like what they post and hope they do the same for me."

Cllr Bunday referred to a photograph on one of the two posts concerning Cllr Corkery. 

He said: "There was nothing in the picture to inform me that Cal was launching his own campaign to stand, and win, as an Independent. However, I have been cited for supporting an opposition candidate.

"Although I do not remember doing so, I acknowledge that I liked these posts and that the Labour Party is therefore entitled to take issue with me for doing so.

"I was interviewed by two region officials and gave them my explanation.

"I subsequently received an email stating that they could not approve me to be your candidate again in May and that I was not a suitable person to stand as a Labour candidate.

"I will continue to work for a Labour victory at the next election and to support a Southampton Labour Council.

"I remain proud of the work I have done within the ward, on the council, and on the Fire Authority.”

READ MORE: Southampton local elections 2023: Bitterne Park candidate statements

Cllr Bunday described the past few months as "difficult and somewhat bruising" but said he would start receiving his pension next April, adding: "Personally the timing is great. And I will soon find a new cause!”

A Labour Party spokesperson added: "I can confirm that Cllr Tony Bunday is no longer a member of the Labour Party, and is therefore no longer a Labour councillor."

Cllr Corkery spoke about his expulsion from the party at the start of this year.

He blamed his arrest at a protest against the decision of the then prime minister Boris Johnson to prorogue parliament, and a Facebook post he "liked" in 2016.