FORMER York council leader David Carr and his colleague Suzie Mercer - who both quit the Conservative party last year - have revealed they are to stand as Independents at the May elections.

Copmanthorpe councillor David Carr says he believes he can better represent residents’ interests as a member of the York Independents Group, and claims ‘two party politics is broken’ and the council’s Tory group is badly divided.

Wheldrake councillor Suzie Mercer says she will be standing on a manifesto to work for a massive improvement in rural bus services.

The pair quit the Tory party at a chaotic full council meeting last February, when Cllr Carr accused a group faction of committing an ‘act of betrayal’ against him.

Another Tory councillor, Bishopthorpe’s John Galvin, recently announced he is to seek election as an Independent, after being barred from standing for the Conservatives. If all three were to win their seats in Tory strongholds, it could impact on Conservative hopes of gaining full control of the council.

Cllr Carr, who said yesterday that he had lost a group motion of no confidence by only one vote last year, said: "As Independents, we can be more vocal and more responsive to our residents.

“We don’t have a party line to toe - we don’t have to have one eye on divisions within the group or please our coalition partners. We can put our residents first.

“I think that party politics is broken - you can see that at Westminster, with splits and defections.

“What distinguishes York is that the three main parties have more or less the same number of seats. It isn’t a one-party city, like Sheffield for example, and therefore a lot of council time is spent playing politics instead of putting the good of the city and residents first.”

Cllr Mercer said rural bus services in her ward were ‘dire’, with the last bus back from the city centre leaving at 6pm. “If you want to work late, you have had it,” she said.

She said she wanted to pursue an idea to improve services by running more frequent, smaller, feeder buses from local villages to the Designer Outlet at Fulford, from where people could catch a Park & Ride bus into the city centre.

She said that if all the buses which currently came along the A19 to the centre were halted at the Park & Ride, it could remove 70 buses per day from the city’s roads, helping to improve air quality.

York Conservative Association chairman Matt Freckelton claimed Cllr Carr used to tell Conservative councillors he was motivated by what he felt was right for the party, ‘so his sudden jump away to become an independent councillor was bizarre.’

He said: “The York Conservative Party will stand Conservative candidates across the city at the May election. If any former Conservatives are elected as independents, they would at least have a mandate, unlike when they were elected as Conservatives and changed their allegiance due to their personal falling outs.”