WILTSHIRE Councillor for Salisbury St Edmund and Milford, Dr Helena McKeown, has resigned.

The GP and former deputy leader of Wiltshire Council's Lib Dem group announced the decision this morning.

She said: "It is after a great deal of thought that I have tendered my resignation as the Councillor for Salisbury St Edmund and Milford ward due to the current unprecedented pressures on general practice in the UK and for my family to also have some of my time and care.

"GPs are constantly planning the service available to our patients and as many patients are also residents I have made the pragmatic decision that I shall better serve these same patients and residents as a GP, and the health needs of the wider Wiltshire population, through the new Wessex Primary Health Care Alliance."

Dr McKeown resigned with immediate effect, meaning there will be a by-election to find a replacement.

Former leader of the Lib Dem group John Hubbard said: "Helena was an outstanding councillor for her community.

"She will be an incredible loss on the council and as councillor for her ward.

"I respect that she's honest enough to say that the workload required of being a GP and of being a councillor means she can't do both well and she feels it's better to respond accordingly.

"I think that's a really credible and really brave thing to do and I respect her enormously for that."

Dr McKeown said: "I'm very grateful to have been a councillor. It's a huge position of privilege and I have really enjoyed the things I have done.

"I haven't been able to make a big difference at county level because there's a huge majority of one party and it is very difficult to influence that, sadly, for the benefit of South Wiltshire and Salisbury.

"That's one of the reasons why I don't feel my time was being best spent."

Dr McKeown said she had been thinking about the decision for some time.

"I feel I'm letting down my residents and the other members of the the Lib Dem group, particularly my friends and fellow councillors Brian Dalton and James Robertson," she said.

"I don't feel very proud of this decision, but it really is a pragmatic one."