While Mr Jamie Fitzjohn said his reasons for leaving were personal, former leader Mrs Louise Goldsmith hinted at some disagreement with the association and her belief that the party was not doing enough to address climate change and environmental matters.
A statement said that although Cllr Goldsmith, clearly served with best intentions ‘it is right the party stepped in to hold her to account.’
Mrs Goldsmith’s stood down as council leader in 2019 after a controversial year for the authority.
Children’s services in West Sussex were transferred to an independent trust after a Department for Education report found there had been ‘inadequate and ineffective leadership’ from the county council.
The Fire & Rescue Service was rated ‘requires improvement’ by inspectors, with accusations raised about bullying as well as ‘significant concerns’ about public protection.
And the £190,000 per year chief executive Nathan Elvery left by mutual consent — with a subsequent, substantial £265,000 financial settlement.
Local party chair, Jane Kilby said: “We are extremely grateful for the service of both Jamie and Louise over many years as Conservative councillors.”
The loss of Mrs Goldsmith and Mr Fitzjohn, who both represent Chichester wards, proved to be the catalyst for two more resignations from the party.
Martyn Bell and Christopher Page, who serve on Chichester District Council, are both now listed as Independents.
While Mr Fitzjohn said he would not be standing for re-election in May 2021, Mrs Goldsmith said she was giving serious thought to standing as an Independent.
She said: “I have been really heartened and grateful for the many well wishes and the support received since becoming an Independent councillor.
“Many have asked me to stand in next year’s county council election and have offered help and support also.
“I am giving these requests very serious consideration.
“Chichester West division is made up of great communities and there are initiatives currently underway which I am supporting and which I would like to see through.”
Karen Dunn , Local Democracy Reporting Service