A CHESHIRE West councillor and former Lord Mayor of Chester has quit the Labour group to become an Independent, a move which further impacts the balance of power at the authority.

Martyn Delaney, who represents Chester City and Garden Quarter Ward, said he had taken the decision as he felt communities were ‘better served’ by councillors who were not affiliated with a political party.

He is the second councillor to leave the Labour group in the last three months, reducing the party’s numbers from 35 to 33. With the council having 70 seats in total – also comprising Conservatives, Lib Dems, Independents and a Green – it means that the 35/35 split has now become 33/37.

And while Labour remains the largest group and retains control of the council as a minority administration, it could be outvoted on some major decisions by the remainder of the council’s members pooling their votes.

Cllr Delaney was first elected to Cheshire West and Chester Council in 2014 at the Boughton ward by-election following the death of Cllr David Robinson.  He retained the seat in the scheduled 2015 local elections.

Following a boundary review he was elected the newly created Chester City and the Garden Quarter ward at the 2019 local elections and served as Lord Mayor of Chester 2021/22.

He said: “While I have for many years been a member of a political party it is my belief that the local community are better served by councillors who are not aligned to any one party and are able to act to get the best results for local residents.”

In a letter to ward residents, he added: “Those residents who know me will know that going forward this change will not affect the support I have already provided and will continue to provide, in solving the issues and problems on your behalf.”

Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “On behalf of Cheshire West Labour, I thank Martyn for his service and wish him well in his continuing work as a councillor.

“The Labour Party has a strong tradition of collectivist politics, drawing strength from people working together for the communities they serve. It is in this spirit that I and my Cheshire West Labour colleagues will continue to deliver our positive agenda of hope.”

He is the second councillor to leave the council’s ruling Labour group this year, with Cllr Mandy Clare, who represents Winsford Dene, also quitting to become an independent in March.