THE chaos at the top of Malvern Hills District Council has deepened with yet more councillors breaking away.

Following the sudden resignation of council leader Sarah Rouse last month, an interim leadership under Cllrs Tom Wells and Daniel Walton had been set up.

Despite this, more councillors have broken away since.

From the ruling Democratic Group, Cllrs Peter Whatley and Lesley Bruton have split off to form a new group with Cllr Rouse.

On top of this, Cllrs Chris Reed and John Raine have left the Democratic Group to join a new five-strong Green group led by Cllr Julie Wood.

Malvern Gazette: LEADER: Interim MHDC leader Cllr Daniel WaltonLEADER: Interim MHDC leader Cllr Daniel Walton

Green group leader Cllr Wood said: "All five of us are committed, first and foremost, to delivering great outcomes for the people, and the area, of The Malvern Hills.

"Working with likeminded councillors, amongst the independents, we will focus on driving forward Green policies, including those which tackle inequality; safeguarding the most vulnerable in our communities; protect our green spaces and enhance our quality of life.

"We have achieved a great deal in coalition with Independent councillors, as part of the Democratic Group, and very much expect to continue this positive relationship."  

The latest development throws up more uncertainty over the future of the administration, with Cllr Walton originally set to take over as leader in May this year at the annual full meeting of the council.

Speaking after the news was confirmed, he said: "Two weeks ago we had Peter Whatley and Lesley Bruton leave the main administration to work with Sarah as a seperate group of Independents.

"We do, however see no change in terms of the future of MHDC and we are all communicating to ensure we continue to deliver together for residents.

"As is the case in many administrations Independent groups do exist seperately but work together where important - doing what we've always set out to do - put people before politics.  

"On May 10 we will have a new council leader but much of the team behind the leader will remain the same delivering as we have done for the past three years."

Malvern Gazette: LEAVING: Cllr Peter WhatleyLEAVING: Cllr Peter Whatley

Announcing his departure from the group, Cllr Whatley said there were figures within the council chasing positions for the financial benefits, rather than to serve the community.

He said: "I am pleased to announce a new group at MHDC: the Malvern Hills Independents.

"Cllrs Bruton, Rouse and I have decided we must keep to the key principle on which all independent councillors were elected: People before politics. 

"We believe our most important role as councillors is to ensure MHDC services are provided efficiently and to serve the public, rather than indulge in political games or manoeuvre for paid positions.

"We are truly independent and will stay that way. 

"We are aware that other councillors feel the same and hope they will follow their consciences as we have."

A tenuous coalition is ruling the council and the Conservatives are in opposition.