The future of a Carlisle city councillor convicted of benefits fraud remained uncertain after he refused to say whether he will resign.

Labour councillor Barrie Osgood, 44, elected to represent the city's Castle in the last year's May local elections, denied fraudulently claiming £3,500 in housing benefit which he was not entitled to.

But after a four hour trial at the city's Rickergate magistrates' court, Mr Osgood was convicted.

Magistrates ruled that he had dishonestly failed to declare on the benefits form he filled out that he owned and was renting out a house.

Osgood, of Lamb Street, Carlisle, claimed he had made an honest mistake – the result of him suffering from mental health problems.

But magistrates rejected his claim, saying it must have been obvious to him that he had a legal obligation to reveal that he owned a home in Buchannan Road, Currock, which he was renting out for more than £300 a month.

Within hours of his conviction, Carlisle City Council's Conservative Group had issued a statement calling for his immediate resignation.

Their statement said: “Conservative Group believe that the dishonest claims for benefit against the very authority Councillor Osgood sits on, are of such severity, that for Councillor Osgood to remain would bring Carlisle City Council into disrepute in the eyes of the Council Tax payer and undermine the hard work of City Council employees who deliver services to the public.

“We do not believe that Councillor Osgood is a fit and proper person to hold office at this time as a result of this conviction...

“We realise that at this time trust in Public Authorities such as Carlisle City Council is at an all time low. Carlisle deserves better than this.” Conservative Group Leader John Mallinson said that if one of his party colleagues had been convicted of so serious an offence he would be asking for his or her resignation.

He added: “Politics should be about trust.

Related: Carlisle city councillor's £3,500 housing benefit fraud

“I can't imagine how any right-thinking person reading about what he has been found guilty of can think it appropriate for him to hold a position within the very organisation which he defrauded.”

The News & Star contacted councillor Osgood but he said he had been advised to refer all media queries to Labour Party officials in Newcastle.

No senior Labour city councillor was willing or available to comment.