A CONTROVERSIAL Welwyn Hatfield Tory councillor criticised by opposition members for failing to attend council meetings has stepped down.

Paul Smith, who represented Hatfield East, handed his letter of abdication to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council leader John Dean today following numerous calls for his resignation by his critics after it emerged he had failed to attend meetings since November last year, but had continued to claim expenses.

The 22-year-old councillor was also slammed after it emerged he had auditioned to be a housemate on Big Brother this summer, arousing doubts over his commitment to his constituents.

In his letter of resignation, Mr Smith said he was unable to juggle the requirements of a councillor with his full-time employment. It read: "Because my employment position has become permanent, I feel that, despite what I think are a great number of achievements for the people of Hatfield, I am no longer able to reconcile my work commitments with my commitments to council work.

"I also feel that this would be a good time to step down as local elections are due in June and so stepping down now would have minimal impact on the council's operation."

The news came within minutes of the Review's revelation that Hatfield South Tory Richard Hedges was stepping down because of professional commitments.