AN AWOL councillor kicked off Copeland council for long-term absence has hit back with claims the council’s decision is unlawful.

Michael Guest was disqualified after failing to turn up to a single meeting in six months, but has insisted he is still a councillor despite the ruling.

He has written to the council citing a “failure of due process” in his dismissal – an allegation that the authority has strongly denied.

He has told the council that, by sending his apologies, he had been excused from attending a meeting on March 8 and that the disqualification is therefore invalid – adding that he would now be resigning anyway.

He said: “I gave my apologies. I understood that I had been excused and assume that the committee was advised of the approval sought. If it was not, then that was another failure of due process.

“As far as I am aware my absence on the March 8 2019 meeting complied with the law and thus you are mistaken.

“Having said this, I will within this week be forwarding my resignation anyway. The terms of that resignation will support my concerns over this latest apparent failure of due process within the Borough Council.”

Michael Guest was elected to serve Kells as an Independent in 2015 but has been to ten meetings out of a possible 36 in that time – netting him an average of more than £1,200 in taxpayer-funded allowances for every appearance.

The former town mayor did not serve on any committees amid claims he could not be relied upon to turn up to them and was only expected to attend the monthly meeting of the full council.

Councillors also said he left the two meetings he attended in 2018 before the halfway point.

Hardworking colleagues serving on multiple committees told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that Mr Guest had let down the community he was elected to serve, branding his conduct “disgraceful”.

A spokesman for Copeland Council said: “Copeland Council also entirely rejects Mr Guest’s claim that the correct process has not been followed in terms of his disqualification.

“He was due to attend the Audit and Governance Committee on March 8 as a complainant, however he advised that he would not be able to attend and the committee agreed to defer his item. He has therefore not attended a council meeting for sixth months.

“Mr Guest is fully aware that submitting apologies for a meeting is insufficient. A councillor must receive dispensation from council to be absent from meetings for a six-month period, otherwise they are subject to automatic disqualification in accordance with Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972.”

Mr Guest, who suffers from Dyslexia, also complained that he was unable to read documents in the format sent by the council, and nor could the software he used for his disability.

He accused the council of failing to meet its legal obligations under the Equality Act but the authority has said it “entirely rejects” the claim.

A spokesman added: “The council is aware of Mr Guest’s dyslexia and, as a result, a hard copy of his letter of disqualification was posted to his home address, alongside an electronic copy.”

It is understood that Mr Guest has not been living in the house in Kells – listed as his home address – for some time.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has been told that the house, which has been put on the market, is now empty and that Mr Guest lives 260 miles away in Hereford.

Mr Guest has been asked to confirm if he still lives in the borough but has so far failed to respond.