A SENIOR councillor is joining the UK Independence Party after quitting the Conservatives, claiming his former party had been “modernised and detoxified out of existence”.

Parkstone councillor Tony Woodcock acknowledged there had been disagreements with council leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson but said they were not the main reason for him quitting.

In a statement, he said: “I have resigned from the Conservative Party because it has been modernised and detoxified out of existence. It is not now the Conservative Party I have worked for for 40 years. The party has changed.

“I now find my political views and ideals are reflected in the policies of the UK Independence Party. I shall not be standing down as a councillor.

“UK Independence do not believe in a party whipping policy or expect their councillors to conform to a group-think laid down for them by their leaders. Therefore, I shall be able to voice openly and honestly the concerns of residents.

“Locally, my major concern for Poole is the Navitus Windfarm off Poole Bay, which will cost us all an arm and a leg, will not consistently produce the goods, will be environmentally risky and will despoil our heritage coast. Residents' objections have been shunned by all Poole parties when I have asked for a fair representation of the other side of the case. Requests for all residents to be informed and allowed to speak have been turned down.”

He added that the government had been “stalling” on an EU referendum “while they cobble together a few minor and inessential changes to keep us in”.

Cllr Woodcock told the Echo that his resignation was not about disputes with Cllr Atkinson.

“There have been disagreements but you deal with those. They are not the principal reason why I'm leaving the Conservative group,” he added.

Cllr Atkinson said “I'm sad that Tony has resigned from the Conservative group but he's said to me that it isn't about the leadership.”

She added: “Most people of my generation and small business people don't want to come out of Europe. They want the best we can get out of Europe,” she said.