A row has broken out over the decision to disqualify a Cotswold councillor over his failure to end meetings.
Mark Annett, who has been onsince 2009 and represented the Campden and Vale ward as a Conservative councillor, has lost his seat on the council.
He formerly led the council, but stepped down in 2018 citing health issues.
The last meeting he attended was in May this year. He issued apologies for the two district council meetings he missed, one due to a holiday and the other after testing positive for Covid-19.
He did go to a parish council meeting during this time and Conservative colleagues argue he could have attended the district council’s November meeting had it not been moved to a later date.
However, the district council’s monitoring officer told a council meeting on December 15 that there will now be a by-election for the seat on February 3.
Councillor Stephen Andrews (Con, Lechlade, Kempsford and Fairford South) asked for the arrangement whereby councillors are disqualified if they do not attend a meeting for six months to be suspended given the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic.
He asked for the council to have a proper discussion about the arrangements in January.
Speaking afterwards Tony Berry, leader of the council’s Conservative group, said the decision was ‘morally not right’.
“The guy missed two meetings. He is being sacked for having Covid.
“He’s been a good servant to the public and he really doesn’t deserve this.
“This is the nasty side of politics.”
But Joe Harris, leader of the Cotswold Liberal Democrats, said: “He was an experienced councillor and should have known that he could have applied for a dispensation from the six-month rule if he was unable to attend because of a personal issue or poor health.
“Mr Annett’s disqualification also poses questions for his former Conservative colleagues.
“Why did they not notice that he was about to be disqualified for non-attendance?
“If they can’t ensure their councillors attend one meeting every six months how can voters have any confidence that they could run the council?”
Monitoring officer Angela Claridge said the disqualification was her decision and was based on the legal opinion she had sought.
The decision does not disqualify former councillor Annett for standing in future elections.