A LONG-serving Weymouth councillor has quit the Liberal Democrats to be come an independent.

Cllr Christine James was first elected to the former Weymouth and Portland Borough Council in 2004 serving the Westham community where she lives. She joined the new Weymouth Town Council this year, representing Westham North.

Cllr James said she feels she can ‘do better’ as an independent councillor, speaking out on issues she feels strongly about.

She said: “As readers will know I am a councillor who likes to get things done and also say what I think on behalf of residents. I believe that on the town council I can do this better if I am independent of any groups because I can then focus my actions on the things that I feel are most important. Issues like the seafront lights and the protection of green spaces from development.

“These are two of the areas where I have been speaking out strongly, and more recently ensuring that the police follow up strongly the vandalism that occurred in Westham.”

She added: “Westham residents can be reassured that I will continue to work hard on their behalf and make sure their voices are heard loudly and strongly than if I remained in a political party. Staying in a political party sometimes makes saying what you want more difficult and although the town council is working hard to be non-political this has not yet fully happened.”

When asked if she thinks councillors who resign from groups should step down so a by-election can be held, Cllr James said ‘there’s nothing in the constitution that says that should happen’.

She added that it also costs the council money when there is a by-election.

The next town council election will be held in 2024.

Despite Cllr James’ resignation, the Lib Dems remain the biggest political group on Weymouth Town Council with 11 seats. Labour has 7, independents 5, Conservatives 4, Greens 2.

Weymouth Town Council remains apolitical with no party in overall control.

David Harris, of South Dorset Liberal Democrats, said: “We are obviously sad that Christine felt she had to take this decision, but Christine likes to represent her constituents strongly and obviously feels the best way she can do that is as an independent rather than a member of a political party. We wish her every luck to do that and I am sure the residents in Westham will continue to receive strong support from her.”