THE councillor who defied his party to save the Conservative administration in Winchester said he "could not sit by and watch what I thought was wrong".

Jamie Scott, a Liberal Democrat, sided with the Tories and so defeated a motion of no confidence at the full city council meeting on Wednesday evening.

In a week of political drama the position of the Tories had looked highly uncertain after Tory councillor Kim Gottlieb left the group over his unhappiness at major projects including the new sports centre and the Central Winchester Regeneration, also known as Silver Hill 2.

It meant that with both Tories and Lib Dems on 22 seats and Cllr Gottlieb saying he would support the motion, the administration of Caroline Horrill was precarious.

Cllr Scott, who had been a Conservative before switching parties in 2014, said: "I not support what the Liberal Democrat did because I think it was opportunist. I also could not see what a new administration would bring to the table that was different to what the Conservatives are already doing. The Lib Dems didn’t present any plan, they just wanted to gain power and this would have harmed the progress of all the important projects in the city.

"I also think it was all undemocratic. The voters had spoken in May and said they clearly wanted a Conservative administration to run the city council. This should have been honoured and not brought into disrepute by the actions of the Lib Dems and one former Conservative councillor (Kim Gottlieb).

"I am a councillor who just wants to serve his residents not play political games, so I could not sit by and watch what I thought was wrong.

"Also, in the last year, I have shadowed Caroline Horrill on the housing brief and seen she cares and is doing a good job. She has acted with dignity and ignored attacks on her integrity over the last few days. I would rather work with her for the good of Winchester district than be with those who are only interested in power."

Asked if he intended to join the Conservative group Cllr Scott, whose ward largely comprises Stanmore, said he would "confirm (his position) in the next few days."

Senior Lib Dem councillor Martin Tod said today: "In the event that Cllr Scott were to decide that he wished to remain in the Liberal Democrat group, then we have a process that enables the group to decide on his continued membership [of the group], and he would have a right to attend and address the meeting that made the decision. Group members are expected to support group decisions on organisational matters, such as the choice of council leader, and failure to do so is a very serious issue.

"At no stage did we make any personal comments about Cllr Horrill.  Throughout we have made it clear that our disagreement is with the policies and priorities of the Conservative administration - and their failure to be open and to listen on certain critical issues.

"Indeed, earlier that evening, Cllr Scott voted with the Liberal Democrat group to highlight residents' real concerns with the Conservatives' plans for the leisure centre. And he was right to do so."

Cllr Scott is also wrong to say that our decision to try and change the leader was undemocratic.  In May, nine of the fifteen wards in the Winchester district elected Liberal Democrat councillors. This year's election clearly showed that in most areas of the district, the majority of voters agree with us and not the Conservatives."