A COUNCIL is in “turmoil” after its chairman quit and left the ruling Conservative group, leaving it without an overall majority.

Bob Boyce is understood to have stood down as Maldon District Council chairman on Monday.

His two-year term as chairman was due to come to an end at the council’s annual meeting in September.

Fellow Conservative Michael Helm has also quit the Tories.

Both are now politically “not specified”.

It means the Conservatives now have 15 councillors while the opposition Independents have 14.

If Mr Helm and Mr Boyce vote with the Independents it could give them the balance of power.

Mr Boyce, who represents Althorne, confirmed he had stood down as council chairman, but declined to comment further.

Mayland councillor Mr Helm also refused to comment on his decision to leave the Tory group.

A council insider described the Conservative in-fighting as a “nightmare”.

The source, who asked not to be named, said: “The Conservative group are split and the cracks are beginning to show.

“Bob Boyce resigned from the Conservatives and the latest is he has resigned as chairman.

“Michael Helm also left the Conservatives and became non-aligned

“We are waiting to see what happens next. There is so much in-fighting – it’s a nightmare.

“There are games being played here for some reason.

“If you look at the numbers, the Conservatives don’t have a majority any more or we could end up with a hung council.

“It’s in turmoil.”

The Conservatives will still have their slender working majority if Mr Boyce and Mr Helm vote with them.

It is understood vice-chairman Penny Channer will chair today’s full council meeting which will be held virtually on YouTube at 1pm.

Mr Boyce was awarded an MBE in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Speaking at the time he said he was “absolutely amazed” to receive the honour from the Queen.

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