FOUR disillusioned Halton Liberal Democrat councillors have quit the party in protest over savage cuts being imposed by the coalition Government.

Runcorn Cllrs Bob Bryant, Peter Blackmore and Chris Carlin resigned this week, saying they can no longer represent a party they claim has betrayed them with Conservative policies.

Clr Mike Shepherd stepped down immediately after the election.

All four plan to continue as independent councillors.

Their resignations have shocked local party members and reduced Halton’s Liberal Democrats to nine.

Clr Linda Redhead, leader of Halton’s Liberal Democrats, said: “It has hit us straight between the eyes.

“We feel quite upset that they have gone to the paper before they have come to their own party.

“If they had sought my advice, I would say they need to give this a bit longer and see how things pan out.

“Anyone in a coalition pact never gets everything they want.”

Clr Bob Bryant, aged 64, of Claremont Road, said: “I can’t carry out proposals I am against.

“They are hitting the most vulnerable in our society.

“I wasn’t asked the join the Conservatives, they just marched in.

“I didn’t say give them a VAT rise, charge students more and make massive cuts.

“It is getting worse and worse. I am frightened for the borough.”

Halton Brook Clr Bryant intends to leave politics at the next election in May.

He added: “I will continue to fight for better health for the borough and concentrate on my stroke club.”

Castlefields Clr Peter Blackmore, aged 49, of Blantyre Street, said: “I am not happy with the coalition and the decisions they are making, like VAT being raised and the BSF programme abolished.

“The reason I joined the LIberal Democrats is because I believed in them.

“They’ve just thrown it all away. They have taken this pact at whatever cost, as their only opportunity to get into power.”

Mersey Clr Chris Carlin, aged 37, of Tildsley Crescent, said: “I became a councillor because I wanted to help, not be a Conservative apologist.

“We’ve already made efficiency savings. We are in the top 25 out of 350 as one of the poorest boroughs in the country.

“I don’t think you can squeeze much more out of Halton without hurting people.”

Windmill Hill Clr Mike Shepherd, aged 57, of Nortonwood Lane, said: “I wasn’t elected to deliver Conservative policies.

“I represent one of the most deprived wards who are struggling already.

“I don’t think getting rid of a deficit at the expense of a huge dole queue is the way forward.

“My concern is about things like the new bridge. All the work and studies have been done to prove it is viable and will help the economy. I just wish they’d make this important decision and stop prevaricating.

“I am a carer for my disabled wife. It is not just a worrying time for individuals, it is a worrying time for organisations like Halton Carers Centre.

“Councils can only be cut to the bone so far. We have already gone through a big review and cut overheads last year. There is no alternative now but to cut services.”

A Halton Liberal Democrats party spokesman said: “Liberal Democrat ministers need strong support from the party now for the steps that they are taking to help revive the economy and restore public finances to a sound state.

“We therefore urge Bob, Peter and Chris to reconsider their decision.

“We will encourage them to come to party conference in Liverpool in September to discuss their concerns with our ministers. ”