A FORMER Shropshire councillor for Oswestry who resigned on Monday has defended her work after failing to turn up for meetings for 15 months.

Clare Aspinall’s resignation as councillor for Oswestry East was confirmed by Shropshire Council on Monday, with criticism over her claiming of full allowances despite not attending meetings since November 2019.

However, Mrs Aspinall says that she wanted to stand down at the same time as resigning from Oswestry Town Council, but was dissuaded from doing so, and insists she still carried out her duties as a councillor.

“I have been minded to stay silent regarding recent stories on my time as councillor, but perhaps I need to provide my side of the story,” she said.

“I wanted to stand down as a Shropshire councillor at the same time I stood down as an Oswestry town councillor.

“However I was persuaded to stay in post so as to not trigger a by-election.

“I agreed to do this, and I continued to carry out council work, with the one missing piece being council meetings. I have always been up front that I have a full time job and family.

“I don’t believe that I have been fairly portrayed. I never wanted to be a councillor for money reasons it was to try and make a difference, for equality of opportunity, to be able to work your way up based on merit not quota.

“I accept that receiving the allowance has been portrayed as wrong, abhorrent even but I still carried out a role, for which an allowance is paid.

“I think the media should be a little more forthcoming around a councillor allowance – it is taxed as a second job.

“I will always have a passion for politics but accept that problems run to deep for the average person on the street to make a difference.”

Mrs Aspinall also attacked a perceived ‘lack of diversity’ on the councils she served.

She added: “If being a councillor is reserved for only those that can afford not to work or retired, that is the definition of an elitist club.

“If council work is a full time role it should be treated as such and paid at the appropriate level to allow for diverse and talented through to enter local government.

“Do we really need to have as many councillors as we do in Shropshire? Increase the salary and half the number of councillors. That way you would get better value.”

The former councillor also believes that Shropshire Council can do more to protect new and young councillors.