A COUNCILLOR has resigned from Shropshire's ruling group over the TNS funding fiasco.

Councillor Matt Lee - also manager of the Venue, which is owned by The New Saints - has stepped down from the Conservative group because of the legal dispute between the club and Shropshire Council over £80,000 received as part of the Market Towns Revitalisation Programme (MTRP).

He said: "In light of the disappointing way that Shropshire Council has responded to the £80,000 grant received by The New Saints of Oswestry Town FC, I have taken the decision to resign from the Conservative group on Shropshire Council with immediate effect and become an independent councillor until the dispute between the Council and TNS has been resolved.

Cllr Lee - who represents Llanymynech ward - believes the council could have been dealt with the matter "in a much more timely and effective manner".

"I have a real passion for the club and the benefit I can see the club having, not only on my children’s lives but the lives of all of the children both the club and The Foundation effect on a daily basis.

"The organisation reaches and provides activities for well in excess of 1,000 children on a weekly basis. These young people are the life blood of this town and The New Saints FC have played a significant part to enable all of this to happen."

"While I am resigning from the Conservative group until the dispute is resolved, I will continue as councillor to represent the interests of Llanymynech and the surrounding areas to the best of my abilities."

Shropshire Council insists that the money was repayable, but TNS says that it was a grant and any repayments were voluntary.

Cllr Steve Charmley, deputy leader of the Conservative group, said: "Obviously, with the current dispute Shropshire Council and his employer TNS, Matt's been put in a difficult so I fully understand why he's taken this decision.

"I hope the dispute can be settled quickly and fairly and Matt will have the chance to come back to the group if that's what he wants to do - and I'm sure he will do."