HIGH-profile Tory councillor Natalie Neale has resigned from her post on Dudley Council, the News can reveal.

Cllr Neale, who was elected to represent Kingswinford North and Wall Heath in May 2014 and who earlier this year was promoted to the shadow cabinet as spokesman for health and well-being, has stepped down with immediate effect – due to personal reasons.

She said in her resignation letter to Dudley Council chief executive Sarah Norman: “The primary reasons for doing so are personal due to a very difficult marriage breakup which has taken its toll on all my close family members.

“Therefore I feel a complete break from the public eye would be good for myself, my family and the Conservative Group "

Mrs Neale, who is currently training to achieve her black belt in kickboxing in her spare time, had only recently announced her new role as deputy chairman of the newly-formed West Midlands Conservative Women’s Association which held its first event at Dudley Council House last Friday (December 18) – a talk on Violence Against Women featuring speakers from Women’s Aid.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Conservatives, said: “I think she just wants a break from politics. It’ll do her good to get out of being in the public glare. It’s taken its toll. We forget sometimes about the human side of things.

“She started very brightly and she made a difference. It’s unfortunate, but we’ve all got a personal life and sometimes you have to look after that personal life and put family first and that’s what she’s doing. It’s her decision to step down.

“It’s sad when a member has to step down but I respect her decision for doing so.”

Cllr Neale’s shock resignation leaves her Kingswinford North and Wall Heath seat vacant until next May – unless a by-election is called before then.

The mum-of-three is expected to remain in her part-time role as a caseworker for Dudley South MP Mike Wood.