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UUP's David Harding leaves to sit as an independent

By Noel McAdam

An Ulster Unionist councillor has resigned claiming the party has lost touch with voters - but pledged not to join another party.

Instead Coleraine councillor David Harding intends to remain as an independent on the new Causeway Coast and Glens super council, which goes live next month.

Mr Harding said he had begun to feel the baggage of UUP membership had become a "barrier" with constituents. But he was not critical of leader Mike Nesbitt whom he believes has done a "remarkable job keeping the party together".

However, he said the party believes it has to shift to the right, which has left him feeling uncomfortable.

"I have nothing to gain from this," he said.

"In fact, I am losing my party support, but it is something I feel I have to do to connect with people."

In a statement, a spokesman said the Ulster Unionist Party "has been nothing but loyal, understanding and supportive of David Harding, not least during his year as mayor of Coleraine".

"David never discussed any of his concerns with the leadership of the UUP. However, what's done is done and we move on in our separate ways," he said.

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