A county councillor has resigned from the Conservative Party – to make the case for "genuine" local government reform.

Technology entrepreneur Cllr Andrew Stevenson believes Hertfordshire’s current two-tier system of local government is too bureaucratic, with too many councils and too many councillors.

He says that much of local government has become "historic theatre" with "more theatre than substance".

The Hertford councillor says his resignation from the Conservative Party will give him greater freedom to speak out as an independent councillor.

The move comes just months after leader of Hertfordshire County Council, Conservative Cllr David Williams, openly backed the idea of a single unitary council for the county.

Exploratory work, commissioned by the county council, has already suggested that replacing the existing 10 Hertfordshire district/borough councils and county council with a transformed unitary authority could save up to £142 million a year.

Cllr Stevenson, who has been the Conservative councillor for the Hertford All Saints division since 2013, says there is a "compelling" case to abolish the middle tier of local government.

But in addition he suggests the need for further changes that could include election, rather than appointment, of portfolio holders and local government decision-making that is more open and transparent.

He said: "I have found from my time as a county councillor that sclerotic decision-making processes pervade the whole of local government.

"Abolishing the district council would be a start, but not the only requirement."

He has also suggested that most people are "bemused" to find there is more than one council in their area.

But he stresses that he is not seeking to criticise individuals.

He said: ."...There are some good people doing their best under a difficult and outdated system.

"However, It is time to change to a simpler and more effective system of local government that genuinely serves the local community.

"We need a new system of local government that is more democratic, simpler, and more effective as we go forward into 2021 with new challenges.

"My resignation from the Conservative Party enables me to speak out on these issues unfettered by party line constraints of fear of vested interest reactions.

“I speak more directly as a resident and business owner who has lived and worked in Hertford for more than 30 years and then had the experience of being a county councillor."

Cllr Stevenson will continue to serve as an independent councillor for the Hertford All Saints division – and has not yet decided whether to stand for election in May.

Commenting on Cllr Stevenson’s decision, leader of the county council Cllr David Williams said: "It is for Andrew to set out why he has decided to resign from the Conservative Party,  but he was a valued Hertfordshire County Council Conservative Group colleague and I particularly wish to thank him for his contribution as a deputy cabinet member."