SNP councillor Jim Bryant has told the Advertiser that he will stand as an independent candidate at the forthcoming council elections.
Cllr Bryant has become disillusioned with his party and wanted more freedom to make his own decisions. He also resigned as the party whip in a move which he believes will benefit his Dalkeith ward if re-elected in May. However, the SNP insist Cllr Bryant would not have been their candidate as he had failed to meet the “required standard”.
The former soldier and bank manager has been an SNP councillor for five years but will now got it alone.
He said: “I got turned down by their vetting procedure. That was the final thing that pushed me over the edge. They said I wasn’t doing enough canvassing. I did some but I have been in the office every weekend trying to keep on top of my portfolios and constituents’ problems. I thought that was more important.”
Cllr Bryant said recent party policy had left him frustrated: “The SNP are not very happy as it will probably take votes from whoever sits for the SNP in ward three (Dalkeith). I just feel that as an independent I can think and do what I want, rather than follow the party line.
“I’m not saying the party is always wrong, it’s just sometimes I’m restricted on what I can do.
“There have been a few issues recently, including council tax being raised in Midlothian but spent elsewhere, I wasn’t happy about but I towed the party line.
“Sometimes you follow the party line, you don’t like it but you do it. But I feel I could do better for my constituents on my own.”
Cath Johnstone, SNP group leader, said: “We would like to thank Jim Bryant for his service. It is unfortunate that he has chosen this path after not meeting the required standard to be able to stand again for the SNP.”