FORMER Melton Mayor Alison Freer-Jones has defended her decision to quit the Conservatives and become an Independent borough councillor.
Mrs Freer-Jones, who represents the Warwick Ward, served as Mayor from 2011-12 and had been a Conservative councillor since 2007.
She was re-elected as a Tory in May last year.
She said: “I just felt, as an Independent, I could better represent people without being constrained by specific political views.
“I haven’t fallen out with anyone. For me this is a good decision in terms of how I want to represent people going forward for the rest of the term.
She added: “My core beliefs haven’t really changed. When I was originally elected my aim and statement was always to work for the benefit of Melton and the people around me. That’s what I’ll continue to do.
“I just hope people will support me as an Independent councillor.”
But Melton Council’s Conservative Leader Byron Rhodes said: “I think Alison now has a problem with the electorate as she was elected on the Tory ticket.
“I think she should seek a fresh mandate from the electorate. She should resign and seek re-election.”
Mrs Freer-Jones responded: “The leader has a right to his own opinion, as do we all.
“One of the reasons I decided to become an Independent was that we all have a right to our own views.”
Independent councillor Elaine Holmes, who represents the borough’s Waltham ward, said: “I told Alison to think long and hard before making her decision as it’s a lonely road being an Independent councillor.
“Now she has made her decision both I and Edward Hutchison (Independent, Frisby ward) will help her in everything she wants to do.”
Following Mrs Freer-Jones’ switch the council is now made up of 18 Conservatives, six Labour and four Independent.