SEVERAL councillors in Malvern have split from the Liberal Democrats following a decision by its leader to pull the party out of the ruling coalition.

Cllr Tom Wells, the current deputy leader of the council, Cllr Beverley Nielsen, Cllr Kathy Wells and Cllr Kwai Hung Chan have all quit the Liberal Democrat group in response to the decision by new leader Cllr Kaleem Aksar to pull the party out of the council’s ruling administration forged by Independent and Green councillors.

In a joint statement, the four councillors said they were forced to leave the group because the new leadership of the Liberal Democrats in Malvern Hills had put forward “no positive plan” for the area in a time of crisis when people were coping with threats to businesses and livelihoods as well as their health and their lives.

Cllr Beverley Nielsen, spokesman for the new group, said: “As a matter of personal conscience the four of us believe it’s in the public interest to provide clear and responsible leadership at this time of so much challenge and uncertainty.

“We do not want to create any further confusion in Malvern Hills District Council and potentially chaos even at a time when there is so much uncertainty and fear affecting the lives of many people across the Malvern Hills.

“We want to ensure continuity of service provision as our council has been working so hard to distribute grants, restart trading in our town centres and promote our area as safe, welcoming and open for business. This awful crisis as the worst in a generation follows the terrible flooding earlier in the year.

"We recognise how hard the administration worked then and it has continued to work flat out throughout these frightening times for so many people.”

The council’s leader Cllr Sarah Rouse said she was delighted to be able to continue working with the four ex-Lib Dem councillors.

“It can’t have been an easy decision for them to have split from their former colleagues,” she said.Our focus has always been people before politics. Now more than ever we must focus on our residents. We know that our new members share our values.

“Together we can take the lead on the recovery of our community, economy and environment at this terrible time.”

Following an emergency meeting earlier this week, the new leader of the Lib Dem group Cllr Askar decided to pull the group from the ruling administration after a narrow vote by councillors.

The decision by the four councillors to quit means the number of Lib Dem councillors on MHDC has dropped to five.

"We want to see the council do more to protect and promote our beautiful environment,” he said. “We want to see more of the homes built in the district being affordable homes. We want to see more healthcare services available at our local community hospital.”

“The current council leadership wasn’t willing to take enough action to solve these problems facing our local community. We faced no choice but to leave the administration and continue to campaign for what we believe in from opposition.

"It was a difficult decision to weigh up, but one that we strongly feel is in the best interests of our residents.

“We will work on an issue by issue basis with councillors who want to make positive change in the district. We will work hard to make sure that residents get the change they deserve from their local council.”

Cllr Tom Wells said: “We voted to support continuity, stability and no change, rather than disruption and instability.

“We voted to support the current administration rather than prop up a Tory administration which appeared to be the only alternative to the negative options which were put to us.

“We voted to continue to work for the people of Malvern and to continue to build on the achievements of the current administration.”

Cllr Kwai Hung Chan said: "We are very sorry we are unable to work together any longer as part of one Liberal Democrat group. However, we cannot agree to drift along with no clear plan, especially at a time of crisis when we need to ensure continuity for the people of Malvern Hills."