FORMER Croydon Council leader Mike Fisher has resigned as head of the opposition Conservative group, after the row over his decision to accept a £10,000 pay rise.
Cllr Fisher had been coming under increasing pressure to quit and made his decision last night (Friday), hours before he was due to face the music at a hastily-arranged showdown meeting of party colleagues.
The Advertiser revealed on Wednesday how Cllr Fisher - council leader for eight years until his party lost the elections in May - accepted an 18 per cent pay increase despite being advised against the move by several cabinet members and other senior Tories, including Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell.
Mr Barwell said on Twitter late last night that his long-time friend had made the right decision in standing down, adding: "Hope this will go some way to restoring his reputation. What he did was wrong but he has also done a lot of good for our town."
Cllr Fisher had come under fire from both sides of the political divide for accepting the pay increase, with Labour's Croydon North MP Steve Reed writing to Prime Minister David Cameron, urging him to suspend the Shirley councillor.
His opposite number and successor as council leader, Tony Newman, said there was no "moral or ethical" justification for what had happened. For his part, Cllr Fisher accused his rival of "stirring things up".
Deputy leaders Dudley Mead and Tim Pollard were among Cllr Fisher's Conservative colleagues to go public with their disappointment at his actions, and an urgent group meeting they'd called for to discuss the situation was due to take place this morning (Saturday).
It is not yet clear who will replace Cllr Fisher as Tory leader, though the likes of Cllr Pollard, Croham councillor Maria Gatland, and Croydon and Sutton GLA member Steve O' Connell are among those likely to be in the frame.