A FORMER Mayor of Oldham has lost his seat on Saddleworth Parish Council after more than 30 years of continuous service.

Cllr Derek Heffernan, aged 78, a staunch Liberal Democrat, was removed from office because he broke the standing orders over failing to notify his non-attendance at council meetings.

A statement from the parish council said: “A section of the Local Government Act 1972 states ‘if a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority he shall, unless failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority.’

“Due to his persistent absence, Cllr Heffernan has been removed from his position on Saddleworth Parish Council in accordance with the provisions.”

At Monday’s parish council meeting, members passed a resolution to declare a “casual vacancy” in the Springhead Higher Ward.

The statement added: “A poll may be claimed by no less than 10 electors registered in the Springhead Higher Ward by April 18 by submitting a petition in writing to the Borough’s Returning Officer.

“In the event of a poll being claimed and there being more than one candidate, a by-election will be held.

“If a poll is not claimed, the Parish Council will fill the vacancy by co-option. The term of office for the successful candidate or co-optee will end on May 2 2019.”

Cllr Heffernan, who has raised more than £250,000 for local charities, will continue to serve as a borough councillor for the Saddleworth North Ward until May 2019.

He said: “I am obviously disappointed at the decision of the Parish Council to end my membership after almost 31 years.

“I did appeal this decision but the panel voted against my appeal and the standing order ruling was confirmed.

“I was under the impression everybody knew my health problems and my apologies were recorded up until October 24, 2017.

“It was after that I did not notice they were no longer being recorded,” he added.

Cllr Heffernan had been chairman of the parish council twice during his years of service.

During his mayoral year, Cllr Heffernan became Oldham’s first Mayor of Peace when the council became the first local authority in the UK to sign the Pledge of Peace on the UN International Day of Peace.

He has been an active member of Saddleworth Parish Council’s chairman’s charity and the Mayor of Oldham’s Appeal.

He and his wife, Di, his constant companion, immersed themselves in local organisations and good causes when they moved to Saddleworth in 1974.

And in addition to supporting a wide range of charities the couple have raised more than £200,000 after being approached by Macmillan Cancer Support to set up the a Saddleworth fundraising group 17 years ago.