Two members of the Orpington Conservative Association have resigned and will now run as Independent candidates in May’s local election.

Julian Benington and Melanie Stevens said the decision was forced on them because of a lack of support.

Mrs Stevens was left fuming after the Orpington Conservative Association decided to not select her as a candidate for the Biggin Hill Ward in the upcoming election.

They said in a joint statement: “This decision has been forced upon us by the actions of certain members of the Association and the total lack of action or support by the Voluntary Party officers at Conservative HQ.”

Cllr Benington, who has represented Biggin Hill as a Conservative councillor since 2006, said: “Melanie has been my ward colleague as a Councillor in Biggin Hill since 2014.

“She has been an excellent and extremely industrious councillor, totally committed to the ward and our residents.

“No member of the approval panel asked my, or the branch chairman’s opinion of Melanie as a councillor, before they decided to de-select her in January 2017, nor again in 2018.”

He told News Shopper his resignation was purely down to supporting Mrs Stevens.

Both Mr Benington and Mrs Stevens are still listed on the Orpington Conservatives website as being representatives from the Biggin Hill Ward.

However, Bromley Council has listed them as Independents on their website.

Tony Owen – Chairman of the Orpington Conservative Association – said: “In a secret ballot, counted by the Biggin Hill ward chairman and the Orpington Conservative political vice chairman and overseen by a senior Conservative party official, Mr Toby Sims and Cllr Julian Benington were selected. Cllr Melanie Stevens was not selected.

“Cllrs Julian Benington and Mrs Melanie Stevens have subsequently resigned from the Orpington Conservative Association and from the Bromley Conservative Group. Cllr Benington will therefore not be standing as a Conservative Candidate in Biggin Hill ward.

“A further selection meeting will be held to choose a second candidate to join Mr Sims.”