West Swindon councillor Steve Wakefield has quit the Conservative group running Swindon Council, saying he has become disillusioned with party politics in the way local government is run.
He believes he will now be able to represent Toothill and Westlea better as an independent councillor. He said: “I have resigned the whip of the Conservative group and my membership of the Conservative Party. Some people will say they leave the party but sometimes the party leaves them.
"Having made the decision I feel a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. I've never been a party political animal, but for some time I've felt party politics has been getting in the way of being able to take community action. I want to be an advocate for the people of Toothill and Westlea, and not of particular policies.
"As far as I'm concerned its business as usual in the area I have represented for several years. I will continue working closely with my ward colleague Mary Martin and with the other councillors in West Swindon who make up a formidable team striving to achieve the best for the area.
Steve was mayor of Swindon during 2008 and 2009 and was instrumental in bringing back the mayor's citizen's award after several years in abeyance.
His resignation comes at a time of apparent infighting within the Conservative group. Rumours abound of disagreements on a range of issues regarding the management and development of the town including the lack of progress on regeneration of the town centre and, in November, the sudden announcement with no consultation of a £450,000 investment by the borough council in a private company to provide wireless internet services to all parts of the town.
The was also open disagreement at a recent Conservative group meeting betweeen the leadership and backbench councillors about proposed cutbacks to the Dial-A-Ride transport service for people with disabilities. As a result the idea has been dropped.