A WINCHESTER councillor who was caught stealing says he will continue to serve his ward and refuses to resign.

James Byrnes, former cabinet member at Winchester City Council, has stepped down from the Conservative Group, but says he will remain as an independent councillor.

It comes after Cllr Byrnes was investigated by police after an allegation that he had stolen £180 from Budgens shop at Williams Garage at Main Road, Otterbourne.

Mr Byrnes, who represents Wonston and Micheldever and is a former prison officer at Winchester, previously held the portfolio for transport and professional services.

He had been set to stand for the Hampshire County Council elections in the Itchen Valley division, but dropped out last month.


No criminal charges were brought as the matter was resolved through a community resolution order. Such an order can only be applied where there is an admission of guilt. It is not a conviction or a caution.

The Liberal Democrats called on him to resign. Cllr Martin Tod said: “He’s clearly got to go. This isn’t acceptable for anyone in public office.

“It also raises questions about the Winchester Conservatives. When did they know?

“Was this the real reason they didn’t run Mr Byrnes as a candidate?

A statement from the city council said: “Cllr James Byrnes has confirmed that he has resigned from the Conservative Group on the City Council, and will be remaining on the council as an independent.”