A COUNTY councillor has said he is considering taking legal action against Didcot Town Council and is calling it ‘unprincipled’ after he lost his seat.

Neville Harris is an independent county councillor for the Ladygrove area in Didcot.

He has been a councillor for 30 years, but recently Didcot Town Council disqualified him from his seat after members claimed he did not attend council meetings for six months.

Mr Harris denies the council’s allegations and said he did attend meetings and followed the ‘Covid-19 guidelines’ when meetings went online.

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He said: "I took a series of steps when Covid-19 made it essential that you had remote meetings and I carefully chronicled every step of it, and I can now demonstrate that they are totally unprincipled.

"The fact is I have been disqualified spuriously under these rules and one option I have got is to seek judicial review."

Mr Harris is considering taking legal action as he believes Didcot Town Council reached an unfair decision and he has been arguing his case on his Facebook page.

He is arguing the ‘six-month rule’ the council has in place is only relevant in ‘normal’ times.

He said: "Usually with attendance you do not have to say anything: you can go in the room have your attendance marked in the book, get up and leave. You can be there for as short as 15 seconds.”

He went on to explain how he believes the online meetings work during coronavirus lockdown.

He said: "If you ring in, they can connect you. I wrote to the town clerk I registered my remote attendance by email. I said 'if you have a problem please ring me'.

"She sent me an email back to say thank you for your instructions."

When meetings went online for the council, Mr Harris said he logged his attendance by email; however, this has led to him being ‘disqualified’ from the council despite Mr Harris saying he had received email conformation of his attendance from the town clerk.

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Mr Harris has also accused Didcot Town Council of not following civil law and said he has been accused of bullying the town clerk.

He said: "This is their third attempt to inhibit my attempt to expose their ineptitude.

"The first time the town clerk tried to have me disciplined for what she called bullying.

"Bullying means in her book, I’m asking her questions why she didn’t follow civil law and she wrote back to say ‘I don’t understand your questions, I find them distressing’.

"I wrote back and said ‘I don’t think it is my question that you find distressing and the fact you don’t understand it, I think it is the subject matter of the question you find distressing’.

"Then she wrote to SODC and tried to make a complaint."

Mr Harris’ seat in Ladygrove is now vacant, but a by-election has been delayed until at least May next year.

In a statement Didcot Town Council said: “Due to Mr Harris not attending any Didcot Town Council committee or council meeting in a period of six months which is required under the Local Government Act 1972, Sec 85, his Ladygrove seat became vacant.

"A by-election has been delayed until at least May 2021 as per The Local Government and Police and Crime Commissioner (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections and Referendums) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and the Coronvirus Act 2020."