A long-serving county councillor has left the Conservative Party following a row over Monmouthshire's Local Development Plan (LDP).

Alan Wintle, the member for Drybridge, will stand as an independent candidate in the council elections in May.

Councillor Wintle claims the Conservative Association acted unfairly in the way he was deselected and has broken party rules by closing the Monmouth Town Branch.

Cllr Wintle was one of three councillors to vote against the deposit stage of the LDP, despite the Conservative Party bringing in the whip.

"We were told we could choose how to vote in our own areas but not to go against the overall LDP, which I thought was stupid," said Cllr Wintle.

"I did not want it finalised because it was not right. Monmouth has enough problems already.

Cllr Wintle said the Monmouth Town Branch was closed by the association in November, taking the selection of councillors away from local party members.

"They have called it a 'temporary suspension' but there is no such thing in the Conservative Party constitution," he added.

"They still haven't given a reason for closing it, which means members have not been able to make an appeal. The association has broken the rules.

"I have been the Drybridge councillor for 13 years and fought three elections.

"I think I have done a reasonable job and my constituents must think so because my majority has gone up every election.

"The constituents are the ones that tell me what to do, not the party – but that's the way the party has gone.

"As an independent, I will be able to carry on representing the views of the residents of Drybridge without having to put the interests of the Conservative Party first.

"My principals were and always will be conservative but I will now be free of any political whip."

• The Monmouth Conservative Association says it has chosen former Mayor of Monmouth and current deputy mayor Terry Christopher to fight the Drybridge seat in May.

A statement released yesterday (Tuesday) said: "In an open selection process the popular local figure was chosen over the current member Alan Wintle.

"In a statement released by Monmouth Conservative Association it was explained that a committee of the party decided that Terry Christopher would be the best person to represent the interests of the residents of the Drybridge ward.

"We wish to point out that contrary to Cllr Wintle's assertions, no consideration was given at selection to his views on the council's Local Development Plan.

"In fact, the committee had no councillors sitting on it who may have been aware of his stance on the LDP.

"Had he been so vehemently opposed to the plan he would have stood down at the time rather than wait until he was de-selected for other reasons by the committee."