Just days after the Mayor of St Ives resigned from the Conservative Party, claiming it was a “hindrance” and “becoming an issue” being a Tory councillor, his deputy says he is now hanging on by the skin of his teeth and “one more farce” will see him also standing down from the party.

Deputy Mayor of St Ives Ken Messenger joined the Tory party two months before Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979, but 44 years on he is teetering on the brink of resigning as a member.

His comments came after the town’s mayor Johnnie Wells resigned from the party at a council meeting last week to cheers and claps from other councillors and members of the public.

Cllr Wells, who will continue as an independent member, said: “I just feel that for me, in St Ives and for Cornwall, an independent role is better. Being a Conservative was becoming an issue.

"It was putting up more barriers than it was taking down. People would kind of shut off to you pretty quickly, so it was becoming more of a hindrance than a help.”

Cllr Messenger, who is now the final Conservative member sitting on St Ives Town Council, responded to his colleague’s resignation, saying: “As the last Tory standing, I resign … wait for it … I resign as the Tory group leader because I can’t be a leader of myself.

"All joking aside, I respect and admire the Mayor’s decision to become an Independent during the rest of his term of office.

“I am hanging on by the skin of my teeth being a Tory councillor, because I believe the Tory Government and Tory Cornwall Council have become deluded and out of touch with reality, and living in cloud cuckoo land.”

Cllr Messenger referred to a number of local decisions which had angered him, including the possible loss of Cornwall’s 24-hour fire control centre at Tolvaddon, which was saved at the last minute 2following angry protest from firefighters and members of the public. He was also critical of the Tory cabinet’s bid to create a Mayor of Cornwall under a devolution deal with central government.

He said: “Locally we have had the Tolvaddon fiasco, the Mayor of Cornwall farce and now the disgrace of the car parking charges, which threaten to become the ULEZ as far as the Tory Cornwall Council is concerned. I am just one more farce, fiasco or disgrace away from calling it a day.”

We spoke to him after he made his speech to the town council. He told us: “To be perfectly blunt, I’m fed up of the last four years and having to defend the indefensible.

"When I see on Conservative Facebook sites that we’ve got the fastest growing economy in the G7 and I see my constituents struggling, it goes against the grain.

"Joe Public are still struggling, food banks are increasing and what they’re [the Conservatives] saying is good, isn’t.”

Of Cornwall Council, he added: “People are asking me why they’re putting the council tax up yet they can lend £20m to Thurrock Council. It will take one more disaster to send me over the edge.”

Cllr Messenger has been a St Ives town councillor since 2018 when he won a by-election. “I’m also the chairman of the planning committee and I’m not happy that the Tories have relaxed the planning laws so much – it’s a developer’s paradise,” he said.