THE chair of Test Valley Liberal Democrats has resigned from the party claiming that there is “unacceptable neglect” by its members for Andover residents.

Richard Rowles, pictured, who has been a town councillor for three years, exited the Lib Dems and handed in a resignation letter yesterday damning the party’s policies.

In his resignation letter to the party, Mr Rowles said: “Despite an overwhelming show of support by the grass roots of the party for me, the local party leadership have failed the residents of Andover by your continued refusal to campaign all year round.

“I got involved with politics to help make a difference for the people of Andover and I can no longer be part of this unacceptable neglect.”

Mr Rowles has claimed no party has a manifesto which accurately represents Andover, adding: “A boilerplate manifesto simply handed down by a national party just isn’t good enough to help the people of Andover.

“None of the national parties are focussed on helping the people of Andover, it’s only at election time that some candidates creep out of the woodwork, there are a few of us that that continue to work hard for the people of Andover all year round.”

He says he was left the party with a clear message: “If you are to fight for the people Andover you need to do more.”

Luigi Gregori, chair of Andover branch of Lib Dem, said: “We were sorry to see Richard Rowles’ resignation letter earlier this Thursday morning. I am sure that we all wish him the best in his future endeavours.

“It is sad to see people descend into personal attacks especially if unjustified. That is not the Liberal Democrat way.”

Mr Rowles, 42, will now stand as an independent in next year’s elections, stating: “I want to be able to put local people before national politics. The people of Andover deserve more, as the Andover Lib Dems are falling short of the mark I’ve decided to become and independent and cast aside the dogmas of national party politics and provide real opposition to the status quo.”

High on the agenda for his campaign, Mr Rowles said he will focus on establishing a fully-funded youth service in the town.

He added: “Like many in Andover, I have a massive issue with so-called ‘public consultations’ by our local councils, which are nothing more than lip-service.

“To make things worse, they stand and watch over the continued decline of our Town Centre. Enough is enough, it’s time to get the job done.”

Mr Rowles is inviting interested people to get in contact with him to support the idea of an alliance of independents for Andover.