A COUNCILLOR who came under fire after attending fewer than half of the town hall meetings required has stepped down for family and health reasons.

Labour opponents called upon Coun Naseem Shabnam to resign last November after it was revealed she had missed seven out of nine council committees since the previous May.

Coun Mohammed Iqbal, group leader, returned to the attack in March after it emerged that the Liberal Democrat councillor had been present at only one meeting since August.

Now Coun Shabnam, elected in 2006 as the first female Asian member in the borough, has announced she is resigning her Pendle seat.

In her resignation letter to chief executive, Stephen Barnes, she said: “This is due to my increasing difficulty in carrying out my duties as a councillor due to increased health problems and family responsibilities.

“I have been proud to represent Brierfield on Pendle Council, and to have helped in a number of achievements while I have been a councillor.

“I would like to thank the people of Brierfield for their help and support.

“I also want to thank all the staff of the council for the help I have received, and those of my fellow coun-cillors who have helped and supported me.”

Coun John David, leader of the council and fellow Lib Dem, said: “We are very sorry to lose Naseem, who broke new ground as the first female councillor from the Asian community.

“We understand the difficulties she has had during this year and wish her well in the future.”

Because Coun Shabnam only has a few months remaining of her term of office, her seat will be filled when the borough elections are contested next spring.

Brierfield has long been a political hotbed in Pendle – last August, Lib Dem councillor Nawaz Ahmed shocked colleagues by def-ecting to Labour.