DISILLUSIONED with constant Tory-Labour "bickering and backbiting", a Hagley councillor has decided to take an independent stance and has quit the Conservative party.

Bromsgrove District councillor Steve Colella made the decision following "the constant belittling" of parish councils and what he believes to be the group’s "inability to engage with public opinion".

Cllr Colella, who is chairman of Hagley Parish Council, said he disagreed with a number of decisions the party had made, including the way money from the New Homes Bonus scheme was spent.

He said: "I believe it should be spent on local communities where development has been approved. It currently goes into central reserves but I think it should go to where the development has happened, not only in Hagley but across the district and be spend on enhancing community facilities.”

He said he would not be aligning himself with another political party and believes he will be able to put "a better argument forward" from now on: "True blue Tory voters may be critical of this action but after seven years as a Tory party councillor I have come to believe that there is no room for party politics in local district council matters.

"I will be able to put a different angle on the arguments and discussions as they come up and can say clearly what I think the community want and what their views are.

"I feel I can represent them better in an independent capacity."

Cllr Colella is not the only councillor to leave the party, Brian Lewis, who represents Woodvale, has also quit after becoming "increasingly frustrated" with the group’s lack of appreciation of local issues and the “increasing isolation” of the people of Bromsgrove.

Cllr Lewis, who lives in Belbroughton, said: “Some of the decisions I have been expected to support are against my principles. I became a district councillor to look after the interests of the local community as well as Bromsgrove as a whole but recent events have made my position in the group untenable."

Both Councillors said that they intend to gather like-minded councillors and community stalwarts from across the district and see if they can offer a genuine long term alternative to the "political merry-go-round in Bromsgrove".

In a joint statement, they added that they remain committed to standing up for what they believe in, not only for their own wards but across the district for those areas which have been let down by their elected representatives.

Cllr Colella added: “From this point on we intend to campaign as an independent group beginning with the rebuilding of bridges with the parish councils - making sure that the tremendous work that parish councillors do is recognised.

“We will actually listen to the numerous resident action groups that have sprung up across the district. We will campaign for parish councils to be properly represented in local matters and for the district to take an active supporting role."