A COUNCILLOR suspended by his party for comments he made about his constituency on Facebook is standing down.

Tory councillor Neil Rockliffe, who represents the Chafford Hundred ward on Thurrock Council, will resign from May, but denied his decision is because of the recent Facebook scandal.

Mr Rockliffe was suspended from the Tory group last month for three months, but said at the time he would not be stepping down as a councillor.

He caused uproar for posting comments on the social networking site when he was on holiday saying he was “missing being in Chaffrica”, and went on to compare his ward to BBC1 soap EastEnders.

He wrote: “Thinking the scriptwriters of EastEnders must live in Chafford Hundred...has all the ingredients...murderers, rapists, concerned ethnic minorities, gay men etc etc...”

Now Mr Rockliffe said of his resignation: “It is something I have been mulling over for quite a long time. I am stepping down for a variety of personal reasons and others which will come out later.

“The suspension or Facebook thing have got nothing to do with my decision to step down.

“I am starting a degree next year, and it will not be fair to the residents of Chafford Hundred if I cannot devote enough time to them.

“Garry Hague, [Tory group leader] and I have had a series of meetings, and it has not just come out of the blue. I will still be working 100 per cent for the residents until May.”

The former cabinet member for transport denied at the time his comments were racist or had anything to do with his ward.

He said he hoped instead he would be remembered for his achievements.

He added: “I do not think you can come out of local politics on a high.

“I hope people remember me for all the good things I have done, like improving the buses and traffic conditions.”