THE future looks bright for the Conservatives in the Rochford District after a disillusioned councillor returned to the group.

Dave Sperring, councillor for the Trinity Ward, resigned from the Conservative party whip and left the group in March, following their handling of controversial new parking charges.

He was the second Conservative in a week to resign the whip, following Toby Mountain’s lead, and together they sat as Independent Conservatives.

But now, following discussions with group and council leader, Terry Cutmore, and last month’s elections, Mr Sperring has decided to return to the fold.

He said: “I had some specific issues with the Conservative group when I left.

“We have subsequently had some frank exchanges of views and they have assured me, as best they can, that these issues will be addressed.

“There is nothing to be achieved by being outside the group anymore, it is not utopia, but we will see where we go from here.

“I did not want to leave the group but it was the only way I could get a positive reaction.”

The controversial parking charges, which included a 25 per cent increase in the hourly rate to £1, and the introduction of charges for Saturday afternoon parking, still have yet to be enforced and will be discussed further at July’s full council meeting.

The Conservatives lost three seats in May’s local elections, but unlike other authorities in Essex, still maintain a large majority in the council, holding 27 of the 39 seats after Mr Sperring’s return.

Mr Cutmore regretted former Conservative councillor Trevor Goodwin’s decision to stand as an independent in Foulness and Great Wakering, which was won by Neil Hookway of Ukip, but said the group remains strong.

He said: “It was disappointing to lose that ward because the vote was split. We lost some ground but still won six seats so it shows some of our policies were right.

“The council has won awards in the past year and we are good on the budget front with no borrowing.

“Dave is back now and we are really pleased about that.

“This council has a tradition of serving our community well and I look forward to working with my new colleagues to continue that.”