Published: 16:08, 21 April 2021
| Updated: 16:10, 21 April 2021
Two long serving borough councillors have quit their party to form a new Independent Party Group on Dartford council.
Former Swanscombe and Greenhithe Resident's Association (SGRA) leader Sue Butterfill and deputy leader Anita Barham will remain borough and town councillors.
But the pair will now serve their residents as part of a new Independent Party Group.
Cllr Butterfill said: "Myself and Anita Barham have resigned and formed the Independent Group.
"We will continue to serve our electorate with passion as we have always done."
On the reasons for their departure, she added: "We felt we had more vision to give going forward and we could do that perhaps even better.
"We thought it was important we did what we felt was right and we did that together unanimously with no doubts."
The pair had both previously served as the mayor of Swanscome and Greenhithe.
Cllr Butterfill is also a school safeguarding governor and project coordinator for Edible Ebbsfleet, a food project aimed at encouraging local residents to grow their own fruit and veg.
She commented how Covid-19 had "exacerbated" feelings of loneliness and isolation in the local community.
But she hopes the return of events such as the Ingress Park family fun day in August, which was scrapped last year due to the pandemic, would help re-establish close community ties.
A statement from the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents’ Association said: "We are surprised and saddened that Cllr Anita Barham and Cllr Susan Butterfill have decided to resign from the SGRA.
"This is not something that the SGRA would have wanted, but we recognise that this is their choice.
"The two former members are planning to remain as borough and town councillors. We expect that they will continue to work hard on local issues, and the SGRA will continue to work with them for the benefit of all our residents."
Kent County Councillor for Swanscombe and Greenhithe Peter Harman, who is now the only elected SGRA borough councillor, also reacted to the decision.
He said: "Anita and Sue resigned from the SGRA a couple of weeks ago and we wish them well.
"They have been very good councillors for this area, and this will no doubt continue. We would welcome them back if they wish to to rejoin the SGRA.
"What is important for local residents is the end product, that they have councillors who always act in their constituents best interests."
They are not the first Dartford councillors to switch allegiance in recent months.
In January, Cllr Laura Edie, who represents the Newtown ward, moved from Labour to the Green Party in protest at the national leadership's stance on unions and school closures, among other issues.