CITY councillor Kim Gottlieb has confirmed he will serve as an independent member after resigning from Winchester's ruling Conservative Party.

Cllr Gottlieb, who represents Alresford and the Itchen Valley, wrote to leader Caroline Horrill over the weekend to confirm the decision.

It means that the Tories have now lost their majority control of the council, after it was cut to just one in May's elections.

Accusing the council of a "lack of humanity" and "arrogance", Cllr Gottlieb said: "It was an immensely difficult decision to make, but I felt that it was necessary because there seems to be no other way to prompt the change of course that the council urgently needs to take.

"The Bar End Sports Centre and Silver Hill comprise wonderful opportunities for the city and the district but, as things stand, poor strategic thinking and decision-making mean that they will very likely result in great disappointment.

"Unfortunately, it seems that the administration cannot be persuaded to change its position on anything."

The announcement follows the approval of the council's vision for both the Winchester Sports and Leisure Park and Silver Hill 2, officially known as the Central Winchester Regeneration Project.

A planning application has now been submitted by the council to build a £38million sports centre to replace the dilapidated River Park site, while councillors will also look at how to implement the regeneration of the city centre.

Cllr Gottlieb also criticised the council's 'lack of transparency'. He said: "Change is also needed in the way the council is governed. Promises of transparency and inclusiveness made at the start of your tenure eighteen months ago, are unfulfilled. "At times, it seems that the decision-making process could not be more opaque and exclusive."

Referring to the Claer Lloyd-Jones report which followed the collapse of the previous Silver Hill scheme, he added: "The council has put more effort and taxpayers’ money into shooting the messenger rather than paying heed to the message of its previous unlawful conduct."

In response, council leader Caroline Horrill said: "I am disappointed to have received Cllr Gottlieb's email and do not recognise the accusations that he has made. The vast majority of people in Winchester simply want the Council to get on with regenerating our city and district and we are doing that right now.

“We know this because residents have made their feelings and thoughts known through the biggest consultations the district has ever engaged in for the Central Winchester regeneration project and the new Sport and Leisure facility, and during the May election. We have listened intently and we have worked hard to come up with projects that work for everyone. It’s difficult to see what is arrogant about this approach.

“The fact is the Conservative-run city council is on the cusp of great achievements for the district, particularly in its regeneration plans, and we very much want to continue with our and our residents ambition and core values; to make Winchester an even better place to live and work for everyone."