Tory councillor Richard Hunt resigns to become independent, leaving party with just five Wakefield Council seats
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Richard Hunt, councillor for Wakefield South, today announced he has quit the party.
Coun Hunt said he has become “somewhat disillusioned” with Tory policies and is not prepared to work with senior local party branch members.
In a statement, Coun Hunt said he continued to have an “excellent working relationship” with Wakefield’s Conservative group leader and fellow ward councillor Nadeem Ahmed.
The announcement means the Tory opposition group hold just five of 63 seats on the Labour-run council.
Coun Hunt is now one of six independent councillors.
Labour hold 49 seats and the Lib Dems have three.
Coun Hunt said: “After serving for many years as a Conservative councillor, I have become somewhat disillusioned by the policies pursued by the party and failures in a number of policy areas.
“In politics it is always difficult to agree with every policy when your party is in government.
“That applies to all parties.
“In this case, matters have been brought to a head by senior members of the current Hemsworth Conservative Association south ward branch, some of who I am no longer prepared to work with.
“I have resigned rather than continue to do so.
“I will join with a number of other former Conservative councillors and sit as an independent.
“I will of course continue to work for the betterment of South ward, with my colleague, Coun Nadeem Ahmed, with whom I have an excellent working relationship.”
Coun Hunt’s party is now listed as Wakefield Independent Group on the council’s website, along with former Conservatives Tony Homewood and Annemarie Glover.
Akef Akbar, Ray Massey and Paul Stockhill, all former Tory members, are listed as independents.
This time last year there were 13 Wakefield Conservative councillors.
In November, former group leader Coun Homewood announced his decision to leave, blaming his “frustration” with the direction of the party.
Days later, former chief whip Coun Glover quit to sit as an independent councillor.
In January, Karl Johnson, then a councillor for Wakefield South ward, resigned.
In May, the Tories failed to defend all four of their seats that were up for election.
Coun Massey then resigned in June, saying: “All the infighting and bickering has worn me down.
“I’m afraid Labour will be rubbing their hands at this.
“People in Wakefield deserve a decent opposition to hold them to account.
“If the group can’t work together with good leadership then they are not going to be an effective opposition.”