A TORY councillor has landed taxpayers with a £30,000 bill by calling a by-election for his seat following weeks of speculation on whether he will stand down, according to the council leader.

Harrow Council leader, Councillor Bill Stephenson (Labour), has criticised Councillor Mark Versallion who has stood down from his seat in the Stanmore Park ward, after being elected last month for another seat for the Heath and Reach area of Central Bedfordshire Council, where he lives.

Cllr Stephenson said: “His standing down is long overdue. The dithering and vacillation by him and the party is apparent.

“He clearly couldn’t represent both seats. It’s now costing the council £30,000 for the by-election, money which could have been spent on frontline services.

“I find it extraordinary that Councillor Hall wasn’t consulted by him as leader of the party and we have to ask ourselves what’s going on there.”

Conservative leader, Cllr Susan Hall, said: “He’s done the correct thing by standing down to concentrate on his seat in Heath and Reach.

“I didn’t know he had applied for that seat and was informed by another person. I think his behaviour was not as it should be.

“The people of Harrow are my priority. I am passionate that our councillors should be there for the residents.”

In his resignation letter given to party members on May 26, Mr Versallion said that circumstances had changed within his group prompting him to leave the party.

He said: “Although I had the honour of being re-elected to Harrow Council last year circumstances have changed considerably since then, particularly within my own group.

“Furthermore, negative comments to the press have been unnecessary, have been an example of the kind of conduct that has led to my seeking public service elsewhere, and I think many of you will agree, the nature of the attack says more about the attacker than the person being attacked.

“I have always maintained, long before the recent elections, that if I win a seat in Bedfordshire I would stand down from Harrow, so I am sure this will not come as a surprise.”

Speaking to the Harrow Times today regarding the cost of the by-election, Cllr Versallion said: “It didn’t even occur to me that I would be standing for the Bedfordshire seat when I was elected to Harrow Council last year.

“I have lived in the area for seven years and could have stood at any time but I was committed to Harrow Council and was honoured to represent the community during that time.”