A former Labour councillor has called on his former supporters to vote for the Green Party in this week's by-election for his old seat.

Vince Meegan, who lost his place on Brighton and Hove City Council two years ago by just 30 votes, said the Greens represented the best hope of bringing about a change he believed was essential for the city.

Labour responded by accusing Mr Meegan of being bitter that they had not selected him as their candidate for the by-election taking place in the Goldsmid ward in Hove on Thursday.

Both parties are vying for the single council seat on offer because if either is successful their parties would have enough combined members to outvote the council's controlling Conservative group.

The Tories are also fighting to win back the seat which has been vacated by one of their councillors, Paul Lainchbury, who resigned after being criticised for not attending enough meetings.

Mr Meegan has pledged his support for the Green candidate Alexandra Phillips in leaflets being delivered by her party in Goldsmid, which covers an area around St Ann's Well Gardens, the county cricket ground and Hove station.

He said Labour's poor standing nationally made them unlikely winners.

He said: "As a former Labour councillor for the area, I urge all Labour and Liberal Democrat voters to back her, too. Labour can't win here now, the Greens can.

“Swing your support behind Alex and help defeat the Tories.”

The ward has three seats on the council and in previous elections voting has been tight between Labour and Conservatives.

Mr Meegan was elected in a by-election in 2001 with a 50 vote lead on his Conservative rival, he retained his seat by just 44 votes in the citywide election in 2003 but a swing to the Tories saw him miss out by 30 votes in 2007.

In that poll he took 1,201 votes. The three elected councillors were Mr Lainchbury, who had 1,330 votes, Conservative Ayas Fallon-Khan, with 1,238, and Labour's Melanie Davis, with 1,231.

They were followed by the third Conservative candidate Stephen Wade, who had 1,189 votes and Labour's Alun Jones on 1,098.

The Green Party's top vote-winner was Rob Jarrett with 1,010 votes, an increase of almost 150 for the party since 2003.

Labour members said they were disappointed by Mr Meegan's words.

Councillor Davis said: "Vince is entitled to his view but could not be more wrong about who is best placed to beat the Tories and win this election.

"He has only given a negative reason for defecting. Vince put himself forward to stand as Labour's candidate for Goldsmid last year but withdrew at the last minute in the face of strong competition for the post from our popular election candidate Lis Telcs. Perhaps Vince is still sore about that."

Mr Meegan has followed several Labour members who are now supporting the Greens.

Among the most noteable was Jack Hazelgrove, the long-serving Labour councillor for Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, who joined the Greens when he retired from the council in 2007.