A SECOND councillor from Torfaen council's Labour group has resigned following the authority's decision to raise council tax by nearly six per cent.

Llantarnam ward councillor Dave Thomas has followed councillor Alan Slade who resigned from the party's group last week, with both now continuing as Independents.

Both had voted against the budget for the year ahead earlier this month, which included a 5.95 per cent council tax rise.

Cllr Thomas said he could understand the need to raise council tax, but felt the proposed increase was too high.

He also criticised an investigation into his behaviour following the vote, which he says resulted in a written warning.

In his resignation letter to Torfaen council’s Labour group leader Anthony Hunt, he said: "To say I am absolutely stunned by the way I have been treated is an understatement.

"I feel within the Labour group anyone with a genuine debate or who has alternative solutions are being stifled and made to feel like an outsider or someone not deemed to be a socialist which is deeply upsetting.

"After much consideration, I have made the decision to resign from the Labour party with immediate effect and will remain a councillor for Llantarnam Ward as an Independent.

"My decision is based on the fact that I believe that Torfaen Labour and some of its members have lost sight of the reason that they were elected; to serve their constituents and make positive changes to local communities."

A spokesman for Torfaen council's Labour group said: "We are disappointed Cllr Thomas has taken this decision and we thank him for his service to the group over the past two years.

"We understand how frustrating the budget process is for all councillors. Unfortunately, we can’t alter the realities of the budget situation.

"Like every council, we’re being put in an extremely difficult position by repeated cuts to our budgets thanks to austerity.

"We’ve worked every year to improve the budget process to give members more say and will continue to make improvements this year, but we have a duty to balance a budget so that vital local services including schools and social care can be maintained.

"In relation to Cllr Thomas voting against the budget, the Chief Whip investigated this matter and concluded that it was not a matter for suspension but a warning was issued in line with Labour Party rules.”