THE Leader of the Labour group on Wyre Forest District Council has quit the party and will now sit as an independent councillor. 

In a statement, Leigh Whitehouse said he decided to resign from the party to "focus on his career," and added that it was "right for his family."

The district council now has three Labour councillors, with the local Labour group in the process of selecting a new leader. 

In his announcement, councillor Whitehouse, who represents the Blakebrook and Habberley South Ward, said: "I have taken this decision as I wish to focus on my career and do not wish to be affiliated to a political party. 

"It is right for me and moreover it is right for my family. 

"I will no longer be bound by a political party line or policy and as such can better represent all residents in our ward, speaking from the heart on every single issue. 

"I appreciate this will come as a surprise and perhaps a disappointment to some, however I assure you I will always be just a phone call or email away and will continue to serve you with the dedication I always have - no matter which political party you support. 

"I will continue to work hard for every resident in my patch, standing up for what I feel is right and working tirelessly to bring about positive change".

Councillor Whitehouse confirmed that he will not be calling for a by-election. 

"I'm confident that people of Blakebrook and Habberley South voted for me rather than the party," he said. 

The councillor added that a by-election would be a "totally unnecessary" cost to the public. 

Reacting to the announcement, Labour councillor Liam Carroll, who represents Offmore and Comberton on the district council, said: "I would like to wish councillor Whitehouse and his family well moving forward. 

"Wyre Forest Labour Group will be meeting shortly to elect a new leader". 

Dr David Craik, chairman of the Kidderminster Labour branch, added: "We are grateful for his work for the Labour Party.

"He's been a great warrior in battling the Tories on Wyre Forest District Council".