New Independen councillor

DAVID O’Neill has quit Calderdale Council’s Liberal Democrat group to become the council’s first “Independent Liberal”.

He was elected in Calder ward four years ago with a majority of 77 votes and is due to stand for re-election in May.

Councillor O’Neill, deputy mayor of Calderdale in 2008/9, said he had fallen out with the Liberal Democrat Party over its backing for a hike in student fees.

The retired teacher is also an Independent member of Todmorden Town Council.

Lib Dem leader Janet Battye said she was dismayed and perplexed.

“The logic behind this move is not clear to us,” she said. The change leaves the Tories with 19 seats, Lib Dems 16, Labour 10, with four Independents, one BNP and one Independent Liberal.