A MONMOUTH man who served as a Tory councillor has announced his decision to defect from the party just weeks before the May 3 local elections.

Bob Hayward, who was elected to the Dixton and Osbaston Monmouthshire ward in 2005, says residents would not be best represented by a Conservative after claiming group leader Peter Fox warned him for opposing the Monmouthshire local development plan (LDP) at a meeting last July.

Mr Fox said he was surprised by the move and there was no sanction in the letter, sent last August after the vote took place at a full council meeting.

Mr Hayward, who was yesterday still a Tory member but will stand as an Independent, will face Simon Lane for the Tories and Anthea Dewhurst for the Liberal Democrats in the ward.

At the full council meeting, Mr Hayward and other councillors opposed the allocation of 66 acres of land at Wonastow Road, Monmouth, for homes and businesses.

Mr Hayward said Tories were allowed to vote against individual issues but had to vote to endorse the whole plan to go out to consultation.

Despite this, he voted against the LDP. The plan was endorsed by 22 members to six, but later Mr Hayward was sent a letter from Mr Fox expressing the group’s “unanimous concern”

and gave him a “final warning”

that further breaches of group rules would be dealt with more firmly.

Mr Hayward told the Argus: “I don’t like the way the Conservative association is running the party in Monmouthshire. There’s a particular issue with the LDP.”

He said Monmouth had “big infrastructure problems” and doesn’t need so many new houses.

However it wasn’t until he was re-selected as a Tory candidate for the ward that he decided to step down.

Mr Fox said the group was “very surprised and disappointed”

at the move.

He confirmed the group decided to vote through the LDP if it remained “sound” after the meeting, but said the letter did not sanction Mr Hayward.

He said: “I don’t know what his reasons are. I know he’s had some issues himself within the association, not with me but with other people.”