AN INDEPENDENT group on Southampton City Council has disbanded so members can “pursue their own political directions”.

Putting People First, comprising all three Coxford councillors – Don Thomas, Tammy Thomas, and Keith Morrell – has decided to disband after six years.

Nevertheless, the trio say it’s “business as usual” and they will still fight “tooth and nail” for their constituents.

The group was originally created in 2012 after Cllr Don Thomas and Cllr Morrell were suspended from the ruling Labour party for voting against budget cuts to Oaklands Swimming Pool in Lordshill. They named the party ‘Councillors Against Cuts’.

Thanks to their efforts, the pool was saved and reopened in 2014. In 2016, the centre celebrated its 30th anniversary.

The duo later renamed the group ‘Putting People First’, and they were then joined by Cllr Tammy Thomas following the 2016 elections.

Former leader Keith Morrell said: “It was decided by the members of the group that they wished to pursue their own independent political

direction, and so we

amicably agreed to disband the group.

“Nonetheless, we are, first and foremost, still here to represent the residents of Coxford.

“It won’t, in any way, affect the commitment we all have to our constituents.

“It is business as usual.”

Fellow former member Don Thomas said: “We can all be proud of our achievements over the last period; we were the only anti-austerity political group on Southampton City Council.

“We gave a political voice to so many public services staff and members, and we fought to save so many Southampton facilities, beginning with Oakland’s Swimming Pool in Lordshill – showing that there is an alternative to cuts.

“The anti-austerity fight continues but we have chosen to do it as independent councillors.”

As the group has disbanded, it is no longer entitled to a leader’s allowance nor seats on council committees.

However, the members say they will still go to meetings to represent their constituents.