MATTHEW Dean has resigned from the Conservative party days after announcing he was stepping down as city council leader.

Cllr Dean, who is a Wiltshire councillor and city councillor for Salisbury St Paul's ward, resigned from his membership with the Conservative party on Wednesday.

He confirmed he will remain on both councils as an independent candidate, but declined to comment further on his resignation.

It came the day after he stepped down as city leader, amid claims he is facing legal action to recover £25,000 of debt in unpaid rent from the pub that he runs (The Duke of York).

Chairman of the Salisbury Conservative Association Kevin Daley had just announced an investigation into allegations of misconduct from Cllr Dean, and said a report of the findings would be put before the party's executive council in the new year.

Cllr Dean is also subject to an investigation by Wiltshire Council's standards committee regarding comments made about Travellers in a cabinet meeting this summer, and in a controversial text sent back in March, which he later denied responsibility for.

Cllr Daley said the Salisbury Conservative Association would "like to thank Matthew for all the hard work he has put in supporting us over the years", adding: "[We] wish him only the best for the future."

And Conservative Salisbury MP John Glen said the resignation was "a regrettable end to years of energetic service", but that he "fully respects" the decision.

"I wish him well as he continues to serve the electors of St Paul’s in an independent capacity,” he added.

Cllr Jo Broom has been chosen to act as interim leader of the city council, until the Conservative group elects a new candidate early in the new year.