A WELL-KNOWN Tory councillor has been forced to stand down after failing to attend meetings for the past six months because of ill health.

Colin Hungate, who has represented Hockley North on Rochford District Council for the past five years was told he could no longer serve on the council because of his non attendance.

His wife Liv, who is also a member of the council, said he had been extremely ill for some time after suffering from heart failure.

She said: "Unfortunately, the doctor could not give any idea of when he would be allowed to take up his duties again.

"We had been hoping over recent months we would have this, but under the circumstances we felt it would be best if we allowed council procedure to take its course.

"It has been a very difficult situation for both of us."

Council internal services director John Honey said councillors felt it was important residents in Hockley North had a councillor who could represent them.

He added: "It was felt the ward could not be allowed to continue without proper representation any longer.

"The decision could not be made before the deadline for the May local elections, so there will have to be a by- election, which will probably take place sometime in June."

Former council leader Peter Webster paid tribute to Mr Hungate.

He said: "Colin was a dedicated and hard working councillor until his illness.

"He worked hard for all his constituents and it is sad his time on the council has been forced to end in this way."