Esher residents will get to choose a new Elmbridge Council representative in June, after a councillor stood down because she was too busy at work.

Conservative councillor Jennifer Sutton was elected in May last year with a majority of 291 votes, but has had to leave before completing her first term.

Coun Sutton said she regretted having to make the decision to step down and thanked the Esher residents for their support during her time as a councillor.

She said: "I have enjoyed the last year in council and greatly appreciated the opportunity to play a role in the local community and hope that residents, who played such a big part in getting me elected, will show equal support to whichever candidate takes my place."

Tory leader Councillor Roy Taylor said the decision was a result of the credit crunch.

He said: "Unfortunately, Coun Sutton’s job has changed and she is now being asked to work in Birmingham and will be away every other week, or there abouts.

"Trying to balance that with a job in the council was not really proving workable.

"It reached the stage where the sensible thing was to stand down. It’s one effect of the credit crunch.

"People are having to do exactly what their employer expects."

However, Joan Leifer from the rival Esher Resident’s Association party, accused Coun Sutton of not fulfilling her council commitments during her year in office.

She said: "Esher needs somebody who is involved all the time and doesn’t just appear at election time.

"Councillor Sutton hasn’t lasted the course."

But Coun Taylor dismissed these claims and praised Coun Sutton for her work during the past year.

He said: "She did everything asked of her.

"She did miss some committees because when she was elected, she almost immediately came under pressure work-wise.

"Sometime these things are temporary, but in Coun Sutton’s case this turned out to be more permanent.

"She was a good councillor and I am sorry to lose her."

The by-election will be held on Thursday, June 4, on the same day as the Surrey County Council and European Parliamentary elections.

The Electoral Services will send residents a poll card with details of where the polling station is.

Anyone wishing to stand for election can collect nomination papers from the Civic Centre in Esher High Street.

The closing date to submit nominations is 4pm on Thursday, May 7.

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