Barnet councillor Shimon Ryde is currently sitting as an Independent member after stepping back from involvement in the local Conservative group.

Cllr Ryde who was elected as a Conservative in the Childs Hill ward, told this newspaper he was still going to be representing people living in the ward.

He said: "I am sitting as an independent and looking forward to continuing to serve the people of Childs Hill on the council. "

He echoed the Barnet Conservative party's statement on the matter saying this was simply a "personal matter".

He said he did not know how long he would be sitting independently for, but added he remained chair of the town hall's strategic planning committee.

On Tuesday, in a statement, the Barnet Conservative group said: "Cllr Ryde has stepped back from the Conservative Group to deal with a personal matter, a decision he made around a fortnight ago, and we hope to welcome him back to the Group in the future.

"Cllr Ryde has made clear that he continues to fully support the Leader and Conservative administration."

Opposition politicians have expressed concern over the transparency around Cllr Ryde's decision to at least temporarily sit independently.

Cllr Gabriel Rozenberg (Lib Dem, Garden Suburb) told this newspaper: "Cllr Ryde is an elected councillor and chair of an influential committee. For me, to suddenly lose the whip without explanation is extremely strange.

"The Barnet Conservative group owes the public transparency and they must explain why such an extreme step has been taken. "

Barnet Council has confirmed Cllr Ryde remains in place as chair of strategic planning - though that position is among those which will be re-appointed at the annual council AGM on May 25.

The town hall also confirmed there is not any outstanding disciplinary action against Cllr Ryde, who was first elected in 2014. He is one of three councillors in Childs Hill ward - the others are Cllr Anne Clarke (Labour) and Cllr Peter Zinkin (Conservative).

After winning two by-elections on May 6 but losing Cllr Ryde for the time being, the Conservatives now have 37 councillors in Barnet.

There are 23 Labour members and two Lib Dems - in addition to Cllr Ryde as the sole independent.