REDDITCH Councillor Juliet Brunner has resigned the Tory whip and will now stand as an indepedent in the upcoming county council elections.

The former Redditch mayor says she was a "loyal" member of the Conservatives for 25 years and made the decision to resign after her bid to defend the Arrow Valley East seat was rejected.

Now, she will fight as an indepedent in the May elections - "free of party political pressure and the whip."

Councillor Brunner, a former leader of the Redditch Conservative group, said: "For me it's about service to the people. Residents put their trust in me to serve their interests and that’s exactly what I will continue to do."

She explained that her party did not select her as a candidate for the Arrow Valley East seat, which left her "stunned."

However, she said her passionate opposition to the Ipsley Meadow cemetery plan was the "straw that broke the camel's back."

She said: "My children have played there, I walk my dogs there. It's not suitable for a cemetery."

Councillor Brunner was first elected to Redditch Borough Council in 2004. She still retains her seat on the Matchborough ward.

She more recently achieved a county council victory for the Arrow Valley East seat in 2017.

She was later replaced as leader of the borough's Conservative group by Councillor Matt Dormer in 2018. 

Councillor Dormer said her application to stand in the election was "poor" and the decision was made by party members within her ward.

He also described her as "not a good party member" and said there was a "huge problem with trust."

He said: "I always encourage every single one of my members to support their residents first. I gave her free rein to oppose me on the cemetery issue."

Councillor Dormer also highlighted that she was democratically elected as a Conservative and questioned whether she should forego her seat.