A Mitcham councillor who has spent the last 18 months living in Wales while running a failed campaign to become an MEP must do more for Merton, according to his leader.

Longthornton’s Leighton Veale drew criticism from the borough’s Labour group leader, Stephen Alambritis, for standing in the European election while drawing an annual allowance of £8,500 a year.

And after failing in last week’s poll, Coun Alambritis has said it is time Coun Veale does more for the people who did elect him.

“While he has been dealing with his constituents as much as possible by email, I’d now expect him to attend more meetings,” he said.

“I’ve expressed my dissatisfaction about this before, but it’s not a happy situation for the people of Longthornton. All our residents deserve councillors that live in the borough.”

Coun Veale is one of four councillors living outside Merton including another Longthornton representative, Steve Austin.

Both have said they are not planning to stand for re-election next year but Coun Alambritis believes the law needs to be changed to prevent a repeat of the situation.

In a statement to the Wimbledon Guardian, Coun Veale said: ”I will not be seeking re-election in Merton next year because I now live in Neath.

"However, I continue to take seriously my duties as a Longthornton councillor.

“I attend council meetings and help residents with casework and will continue to do so for the next 11 months until my term ends.

“It is obviously a pity that four Merton councillors from both Labour and Conservative ranks have moved from the borough, due to work reasons, but I think we all realise that to have four by-elections in Merton would involve huge expense and disruption, not least in terms of having to close several schools for a day to use as polling stations.

“We don't want to be responsible for that happening.”

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