A FORMER shadow cabinet member at Swindon Council has quit the opposition Labour group and the whole Labour Party because she says she is unhappy with some of the party political decisions.

Coun Rochelle Russell, of Chatsworth Road, Swindon, who was elected for Labour in May 2010, will not stand for re-election in May 2014 but will continue as an independent councillor for Gorse Hill and Pinehurst.

Formerly Labour’s lead member for children’s services, she left the shadow cabinet at February’s full council meeting and was replaced in the post by Labour stalwart Coun Cindy Matthews (Lab, Lydiard and Freshbrook).

Coun Russell is waiting to find out whether she will keep all her committee roles.

In a statement, she said: “I have taken the difficult decision to leave the Labour Group and wish to announce that I intend to serve my ward as an independent councillor until my term of office ends next year, unless I am given a clear steer by the electorate that I should stand down.

“I have found the more overtly political aspects of my role increasingly onerous as I am not convinced that the people of Swindon are best served by some of the party political manoeuvrings that take place.

“I believe I can be of most use in the ward working with the community, which is where I will continue to focus my efforts.

“Over the past three years I have built good working relationships with officers and colleagues, I hope those relationships will continue.

“I wish to make it clear that I will not stand for re-election next year, nor will I be joining any other political group. My personal political views have not changed.”

Coun Russell has seen some successes in her short time as a councillor. She worked with fellow ward councillors and the community to successfully stop plans for a pharmacy with late-night opening, a needle exchange and other services, inside the Hawthorn Medical Centre, in May Close.

She and her colleagues were also involved in the successful campaign against the Haboakus plans to build homes at Kembrey Grass and Pickard’s Small Field.

In her spare time, Coun Russell is part of Gorse Hill In Bloom, is one of the Gorse Hill Litterpickers and is involved with the Gorse Hill Newsletter.

She is also a member of Pinetrees Community Centre Association and is a governor at Gorse Hill School and Swindon Academy. She is married to Stratton’s parish clerk, Paul Russell.

Coun Jim Grant, the Labour group leader, said: “I have, with great regret, accepted Coun Russell's resignation.

“Rochelle has, for personal reasons, decided to leave the Labour Party.

“She has confirmed to me that she will not be joining any other political party or group and will serve the remainder of her term, through until May 2014, as an independent councillor.

“Rochelle has also informed me that she will not be seeking re-election in 2014.”