TORFAEN councillor Alan Slade has resigned from Torfaen County Borough Council Labour group following the council’s vote on the budget last week.

The Llantarnam councillor cited a Labour party-initiated investigation into his behaviour following his vote against the budget at the full council meeting as the reason for his resignation.

Cllr Slade will now continue as an Independent councillor.

In his resignation letter to Torfaen Council’s Labour group leader Anthony Hunt, he said: “Since the announcement of an investigation of my recent vote against the Council budget it is clear that I am expected to agree with every poor decision that the labour group make.

“The reasons for my decision to vote against the budget were well known by anyone interested prior to the Council meeting.

“Despite your assertions that the decision to increase Council tax every year is a difficult one, successive Labour administrations have raised it by a cumulative 64 per cent since 2006.

“Over the same time period the consumer price index has increased by a little over 25 per cent. I simply cannot be part of this process going forward since poverty cannot be alleviated if one is determined to continue making people poorer.

“I am content that I can carry on representing the best interests of the constituents of Llantarnam as an independent Councillor.

“At least then I shall be able to continue to speak out without fear of reprisal.”

Torfaen Labour group leader Cllr Anthony Hunt said that he was disappointed that Cllr Slade had chosen to resign, and said that the rise in Council tax was an "unavoidable necessity" in the face of funding cuts.

He said: “I’m disappointed that Cllr Slade has chosen to resign and thank him for his contribution to the group over the past two years.

"Setting budgets has been agonising for councillors across Britain, as we try to maintain local public services in the face of a decade of funding cuts.

"Unfortunately, with funding going down and demand going up, council tax is an unavoidable necessity if we are to maintain vital services like schools and social care for the vulnerable.

"That reality is true not just in Torfaen - as shown in the other 21 councils across Wales of all political shades, who all saw council tax rise, on average by more than our own.

"We must work hard to be ever more efficient and innovative each year to save money, looking for different ways to do things.

"But that alone won’t solve such a large gap in funding, and the reality is that seemingly popular choices in the short term would have real long-term consequences for the people we serve and the services we all depend on."