A COUNCILLOR has left the coalition running BCP Council, citing a “catalogue of catastrophic policy decisions”.

Hamworthy representative Julie Bagwell has resigned as a member of the Unity Alliance and said she would be free to vote for policies she deemed to be in the best interests of her constituents.

Her departure further reduces the size of the coalition administration which is now made up of 34 of 74 elected councillors.

Cllr Bagwell, who was originally part of the Poole People group before leaving last year to become an independent, formally left the Unity Alliance on Thursday in an email to council leader Vikki Slade.

Explaining her decision, she said she had had “grave doubts” about the sustainability of the coalition from the moment it was formed after last year’s election.

“Over the last 18 months l have witnessed the gradual and evident crumbling of the initial first aspirational vision of the Unity Alliance,” she said. “This, in my opinion, has been brought about by a lack of strategic leadership in the delivery of required policy and in real terms in a complete absence of a ‘transformation plan for the people of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’.

“The situation is compounded by the incompetence and inexperience of many portfolio holders [cabinet members], who have failed to deliver the basic requirements of their complex roles.

“Regrettably, I no longer feel able to be associated with, or part of, the continued catalogue of catastrophic policy decisions, which are causing constant distress to so many residents and failing to start the work required to recover from the impact of Covid and the inevitable reduced government funding year on year.”

Cllr Slade said she was “sad and disappointed” by the decision.

“These have been a hugely challenging few months for the council and all our staff but we are securing real progress across a whole range of services and issues and making a positive difference to our communities,” she said.

“I will be holding an informal meeting of the cabinet and we will look to plan a way forward to continue working in the best of all the residents of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and hope that Julie will feel able to support our work albeit from outside of the formal alliance.”

Cllr Bagwell’s decision weakens the position of the ruling administration which only survived a vote of no confidence put forward by the Conservative opposition in June by the casting vote of the council’s chairman.

The Conservative group was due to meet last night to discuss potential actions ahead of the next full council meeting on September 15.

Its leader, councillor Drew Mellor, said it was “no surprise” that some members of the coalition were considering leaving.

“In light of the further destabilisation of the alliance, the Conservative group will continue to do what we have been committed to do from the outset which is to work with councillors irrespective of partisan politics to find ways of delivering for the residents of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole,” he said.

“We need better leadership across the conurbation than we have experienced to date.”