A VETERAN councillor has been disqualified for not attending a meeting for six months - prompting a by-election.

The Lancashire Telegraph revealed last December that Coun Shelagh Derwent was at risk of being automatically ousted from her Blacko and Higherford seat.

Fellow Conservatives had attempted to secure a ‘leave of absence’ for the former county councillor, who was chairman of the borough’s accounts and audit committee.

But Liberal Democrats and Labour opposition members are understood to have rejected the move, which was due to be debated at the pre-Christmas full council meeting before it was withdrawn.

Philip Mousdale, the borough’s deputy chief executive, said in a report: “Coun Shelia Derwent, who represents the Blacko and Higherford ward, has not attended a meeting of the council or its committees since July 15, 2013.

“The council has not approved any leave of absence. Consequently she has ceased to be a member of the council.”

Her position is set to be formally declared vacant at next Tuesday’s full council meeting and the date for a by-election has been fixed for April 3.

The authority will then seek nominations for a new accounts committee chairman, for the rest of the municipal year, and to fill a number of appointments she held.

Coun Derwent was also represented the borough on the district’s early years development and childcare forum, Heritage Trust for the North West, Pendle Countryside Access Forum and Pendle Youth Orchestra.

The councillor is understood to have been living with family in Dorset since selling her Flaxmoss Farm home in Blacko last year.

The Conservatives will be heavy favourites to retain the seat, which Coun Derwent secured with a 435-vote majority in 2011.