AN INDEPENDENT councillor who recently turned her back on the Conservative party has topped the poll for her ward in the recent elections.

Jo Beavis, County Councillor for Halstead and District Councillor for the Hedingham's says she is grateful to have been re-elected and to keen to move forward to "deliver a positive change."

Mrs Beavis said: "Thank you 618 times to the residents of Sible Hedingham and Castle Hedingham who turned out to vote for me last week.

"My grateful thanks are extended to everyone who took the time to message me and send me wonderful letters of support during my Election Campaign for the Hedingham Ward.

"It helped me to have the confidence to believe in myself that I could stand as an Independent Candidate and win a seat at Braintree District Council."

Mrs Beavis has represented the Hedingham Ward as a Conservative District Councillor for 16 years and the Halstead Division as a Conservative County Councillor for two years.

"It was a huge leap to withdraw my membership from the Party, the time was right for me. she said.

"Over the past few years I have seen, first hand, a progressive change in the culture of the two main parties.

"As a Local Government Association Peer I see this on many levels enough for me to understand that party politics is being put before people. This needs to change with a greater focus on community engagement."

Earlier this year Mrs Beavis resigned as a Conservative district councillor to focus on the Gosfield Village shop.

She added: "The dominance of the two large national parties: Conservative and Labour needs to be challenged from the grassroots. We can, if we are minded, make the change and grow the number of independent representatives.

"The overall local election results has demonstrated that people have lost confidence in the big parties but trust independent representatives’ to deliver a positive change our communities deserve."

This trend was highlighted in the Halstead Town Council elections which saw the independent group, Halstead Residents Association take a landslide victory with ten of 12 seats occupied.

"My Independent Manifesto was shaped by what people told me.

"The growth of local homes without appropriate community infrastructure was a big issue for local people. The lack of affordable homes and local jobs was also a huge issue locally.

"Despite a nasty campaign by the local conservative party towards me I held my nerve and continued my campaign as an independent candidate.

"I topped the poll in the Hedingham Ward. I cannot thank the people enough for their support."