A TORY councillor has been criticised for taking his allowance despite being thrown off Colchester Council for failing to attend a single meeting in six months.

Mark Cable, councillor for Dedham and Langham, last went to a full council meeting on December 11 last year.

He says work commitments made it impossible for him to attend any meetings since.

Under Local Government rules, if a councillor does not attend a meeting for six months their seat is made vacant, so he automatically ceased being a councillor in June.

He has just been informed. Opposition councillors have criticised Mr Cable for accepting his £6,572-a-year allowance and causing a costly by-election to be held.

Lib Dem Paul Smith, leader of the council, said: “Mark Cable had the perfect opportunity to step down in May at the council elections. Instead, it seems he was willing to take his allowance, but not willing to do any work.

“It’s disgusting taxpayers will now have to foot the bill for an expensive by-election less than six months later because of Mr Cable and his colleagues’ actions.

“His behaviour is appalling enough, but his Conservative colleagues have compounded the situation by turning a blind eye to his non-attendance to important council meetings.”

Tim Young, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “The Tories have been totally incompetent in allowing this to happen.

“Why didn’t his group leader or whip warn him his continuing absence would result in him losing his seat on the council?”

Mr Cable, who was elected three years ago, said a new job as an IT consultant in London had made it difficult for him to attend the meetings, which usually start at 6pm.

He said: “I started a new job in London. Getting back from London for 6pm meetings is just impossible.”

Mr Cable said although he was not attending meetings he was still working hard for his constituents and continues to do so even though he has been removed from the seat.

He had previously asked to not have an allowance because he was not on any committees.

He said: “Democratic Services said it was not necessary and it was not for attending council meetings.

“It is for a councillor as long as you are doing your work.

“It is unfortunate. I didn’t want to go out like this. It is a real shame.”

A by-election will be held if two or more electors come forward and request an election.

The official party line

TERRY Sutton, chairman of the Colchester and Harwich and North Essex Conservative Association, said the Conservatives would put forward a candidate to fight the seat in any by election.

Beverly Davies, deputy group leader on Colchester Council, said: “Mark has continued to be a very active ward councillor, which has included planning call-ins and representation.

“He has always been a very hard-working ward councillor.

“Mark is held in very high regard by his residents and fellow councillors and we are all disappointed his work commitments have led to this situation.”