THE last ever Mayor of Taunton Deane has resigned as a councillor less than two months after the district elections.

Catherine Herbert, who was one of the most experienced members of the Conservative group, said she quit the new Somerset West and Taunton Council for "personal reasons".

Tory leader Cllr Anthony Trollope-Bellew, who unsuccessfully tried to persuade her to stay, has seen the Conservative numbers drop to nine councillors out of a total of 59 on the Lib Dem-majority authority.

A by-election will be held in the Vivary ward she represents to find a replacement for Mrs Herbert, who served as Mayor in the year to May and held the leisure portfolio on the former Taunton Deane Borough Council.

She told the County Gazette: "I've resigned as a councillor for personal reasons. My life.

"It's nothing about Boris. It's nothing my party or group have said or done.

"I've been a councillor for 12 years. I feel I have achieved quite a lot.

"I built Blackbrook Swimming Pool and refurbished Taunton Pool. I was making a difference in my local area."

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Mrs Herbert continued working on council matters right up to last weekend and plans to meet residents in her ward shortly to update them on what she has been doing.

She said: "I've enjoyed my time as a councillor, especially as Mayor - that was a wonderful year, seeing all the fantastic stuff that goes on in and around Taunton and raising money for charities was really great.

"There was a little bit of shock among my colleagues when I resigned, but they've been understanding of my decision."

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Mrs Herbert, who is still a member of the Conservative party nationally, said she did not stand down before the election "because things take time to play out".

Cllr Trollope-Bellew said he had not received confirmation of Mrs Herbert's decision to resign.

He said: "She hasn't spoken to me.

"When I last saw her and she said she was thinking of standing down. I did try to persuade her to stay on.

"But she said it wasn't political reasons. It was other reasons.

"I very much regret her leaving, especially because she is very hard-working and still had a lot to offer. But she had her reasons."

Cllr Danny Wedderkopp (LibDem), who also represents Vivary, said: "I would like to thank Catherine for her 12 years of service representing the people of Vivary and wish her well for the future."