CLACTON’S MP has told critics he will not stand down from his role as a district councillor – despite attending just one meeting in six months.

Opposition councillors have called for Giles Watling, who is both an MP and a councillor for Frinton, to resign from his role at Tendring Council.

Mr Watling was elected to the House of Commons with a 15,828-vote majority in June, following which he stood down from his position as the council’s cabinet member for regeneration.

Councillor and Labour group leader Ivan Henderson, who was MP for Harwich from 1997 to 2005, has called on Mr Watling to resign from the council after it was revealed he has only attended one council meeting in six months.

But Mr Watling, who was asked to stay on by the Conservative group, said he would continue as a backbench councillor alongside his Parliamentary role.

He said: “I don’t want to inflict another election on the people of Frinton – we have had a lot of them here in recent years.

“The cost of a by-election would be between £7,000 and £10,000.

“In this age of computer technology, I do a great deal of local ward work electronically.

“I confer with my fellow ward councillor Nick Turner on all issues of the day and also have regular meetings with the council’s chief executive to keep up to speed.”

Mr Henderson had reported the issue to council officers to investigate whether Mr Watling had breached council rules on attendance.

He said: “There’s no way MPs can attend meetings in the evenings while they are working in Parliament – all they could manage is to attend a cabinet meeting during the day.

“To me it doesn’t matter whether we have a councillor who is an MP.

“He hasn’t got the time to be a councillor – his ward and residents have a right to proper representation on the district council.

“We have asked the council to check out the six-month rule, but he hasn’t been in breach of it as he attended a cabinet meeting as an observer.”

If a councillor does not attend a meeting for a consecutive period of six months they would be disqualified from office. The basic council allowance for backbench councillors is £5,173 a year.

The practice of serving in more than one elected position simultaneously – known as dual mandate – usually involves a transition period from one elected office to another.