A MAVERICK Lib Dem Southend councillor is quitting the party, claiming his local colleagues are “lacking in vision”.

Ric Morgan, a Lib Dem member for Prittlewell for the past five years, has resigned, firing a damning broadside at its leadership. As the writer and broadcaster, known in the council chamber for his outspoken views, quit, he attacked group leader Graham Longley ’s “dictator-like” style and complained about the group’s lack of vision.

Speaking last night, Mr Morgan said he would continue on the council, effectively sitting as an independent, though in fact, he had joined the Liberal Party.

He added: “I have become completely disillusioned with the Lib Dem group in Southend and the way it is run.

“Mr Longley’s dictator-like attitude has allowed the Tories to retain control of the council when that was not what the public voted for.”

A former Echo columnist, Mr Morgan was first elected in Prittlewell in 2007 and retained his seat with a convincing majority last year.

He has campaigned vigorously on issues including council parking restrictions in streets near Southend Hospital and teaching standards in schools.

Over the years, he also became known for having strong views on what he felt was his party’s lack of policies for the town.

May’s council elections left the Tories with no overall majority in the council chamber for the first time in 12 years. Mr Morgan urged the three opposition groups to work together to take control of the council away from the Tories.

Labour members and nine out of ten Independent councillors voted for a change, but Mr Longley ordered the Lib Dem group to abstain, allowing the Tories to continue.

Mr Morgan was the sole Lib Dem to ignore the instruction.

After announcing his resignation, Mr Morgan said: “I will no longer be part of a group which has failed the public and is completely lacking in vision.”