CARLISLE City Councillor Paul Nedved has left the Conservative Party - after nearly half a century of membership - over the so-called 'partygate' scandal.

In a resignation letter, Mr Nedved explained his decision to become an Independent representing the Stanwix and Houghton ward.

He said: "I have already expressed my personal thanks to our excellent City Council officers and staff who have performed so well under the pressures of Covid 19.

"It is an honour to serve Stanwix Urban and Stanwix and Houghton which I have done for over 11 years as an elected representative.

"I have received kindness, goodwill and support from many quarters including group members and residents over many years which I hopefully have tried to reciprocate.

"It is however with the deepest sadness, and after a period of very careful reflection as a life-long Conservative, unbroken for over 45 years, that I have decided to tender my resignation from both the Carlisle Conservative Group of the City Council and the wider Conservative Party with immediate effect.

"Today I have become an Independent Carlisle City Councillor representing Stanwix and Houghton. I will endeavour for the remainder of my term to serve and continue to give my full energies serving the residents and businesses in the Ward to the best of my ability.

"I hope also that those residents that voted me in previous local elections will both understand and condone the difficult personal decisions I have taken today."

Mr Nedved says that the decision has been taken largely due to the recent actions of the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues involved in 'partygate' - along with a 'series of other revelations' he says have undermined the work of the Conservative Party.

His decision to leave for this reason he says has been reflected elsewhere with other councillors leaving the Conservative Party.

As an Independent Councillor Mr Nedved hopes to focus on issues affecting Carlisle residents.

He has cited controversial housing developments, the location of a new primary school north of the river and the future of the University Campus site at Brampton Road as some of the issues he wants to address.

A spokesperson from the Carlisle Conservatives said: "Paul has sadly made the decision to leave the Party and Conservative group which is a shame as the Council under the Conservatives is helping to transform the district. 

"Over the next few years we will be seeing the fruits of £250 million of government investment coming into Carlisle. Investment which will help to support jobs and businesses and develop much needed infrastructure improvements.

"Carlisle City Council Conservatives recently announced a £250,000 in play area improvements, free weekend parking in Council City Centre car parks and a Council Tax freeze across the whole district. 

"We have continued to work with smaller parties and independent Councillors across the Council Chamber since we took office in 2019 to fulfill our ambitious agenda of improving Carlisle City and the rural villages and towns, no doubt this work will continue and include, in future, Councillor Nedved."