THE leader of South Ribble Council has resigned due to 'ill health' in the wake of a critical report about safeguarding of the public.

Last month a report found South Ribble Council had shown a lack of awareness about safeguarding passengers after taxi licence application procedures and practices were found to be lax.

Conservative councillor Margaret Smith had faced calls for her to quit from her own party over her leadership.

Last week four of her fellow councillors resigned the Tory whip and became 'Independent Conservatives'.

Councillor Smith resigned with immediate effect on Wednesday.

Those resignations came in the wake of a motion of no confidence in council leader, who was criticised by some in her party about her handling of a taxi driver licensing issue during which two officers were suspended and concerns were raised about the safeguarding of children.

The current make up of the council is now 25 Conservatives and 25 from other parties or Independent.

Councillors Paul Wharton, Barbara Nathan, Michael Nathan and Andrea Ball are those who quit citing ‘significant failures in leadership’.

It is unclear whether they will return to the fold following her resignation.

A full council meeting was told councillor Smith had resigned due to "ill health".

She had been leader of the council for the past nine years but did not attend the meeting at Leyland Civic centre.

Her resignation letter was read out by chief executive Mike Nuttall Councillor Colin Clark was later chosen by members as the interim leader of South Ribble Council.