CONSERVATIVES on Stratford District Council (SDC) have come under fire for the timing of the resignation of one of its members.

Jonathan Gullis, who was elected in May 2011 when he was aged 21, has started a teaching job in London, meaning he will no longer continue as a Shipston councillor.

But both Labour and Liberal Democrats have criticised the timing of his resignation which they say came just a few hours too late for a byelection to be held on November 15 – to coincide with the Police Crime Commissioner elections – and therefore save public money.

A stand-alone by-election in Shipston, unless it is held in May next year with the county council elections, will now cost the taxpayer £5,155.

Councillor Richard Cheney (Shipston). leader of the Lib- Dems on SDC, said: “It’s a great shame that this resignation wasn’t made just a little earlier, which could have saved a significant amount of public money.

“Surely the Conservatives must have known that Coun Gullis was planning to resign and could have made sure that he was aware of the importance of the timing of the resignation?”

Jeff Kenner, Labour Party member, said: “With so many important issues for Shipston to be decided over the coming months, from major planning proposals to the future of local health facilities, it is essential for the town to be properly represented on the council.”

But the leader of Stratford District Council, Coun Chris Saint (Cons), said this was not the case.

“There never was any guarantee whatsoever of a byelection on November 15.

That’s a figment of their imagination. Nobody wanted this by-election. The timing of the resignation was down to Mr Gullis.

“The timing of the by-election is not totally in our own hands. An undue delay of holding a by-election is not in the public interest in my view.”