CALLS have been made for a Caerphilly councillor to resign after he left the Labour group to become an Independent.

Labour councillors say Councillor Kevin Dawson’s actions are a ‘betrayal’ of the people of Pengam who had voted him in last May.

Council leader Dave Poole has asked his fellow Pengam councillor to ‘do the honourable thing’ and step aside.

But Cllr Dawson has vowed to stay on, despite concerns over his attendance record since taking office last May.

He has been present at 12 of 32 meetings he was expected to attend, with apologies for absence received for all 20 of his recorded absences.

Cllr Dawson said his low attendance record was down to difficulties striking a balance between his councillor duties, his full-time job and his family.

“I have a four-year old son, I’m self-employed as an occupational psychologist and my wife is studying for a degree,” said Cllr Dawson.

“A councillor is a public role and not a professional one, and the issues surrounding work/life balance have been flagged up by the Local Government Association.”

An internal disciplinary procedure into Cllr Dawson’s absences was launched by Labour, with the group offering to pay towards childcare costs.

Cllr Dawson says he asked for a sabbatical until next July, a suggestion which he claims was refused by the Labour group.

“Being self-employed I wanted to have flexibility to look after my child while my wife works,” said Cllr Dawson.

“Labour basically told me to either put my child up for childcare or be suspended. I decided to put my child and family first, as family comes first every time.

“I was chosen by the public to represent my community and I plan to carry on doing so as an Independent councillor.”

But Councillor Gez Kirby, spokesman for the council’s Labour group, said that a formal request for a sabbatical had not been received.

He also said that talk of suspension only arose recently and ‘long after’ the council had offered childcare support to Cllr Dawson.

“We’re very disappointed that Cllr Dawson intends to stay on as an Independent as the people of Pengam chose to vote in Labour councillors.

“I suspect this is because he knows he would lose in a by-election to a Labour candidate who is prepared to do some work.”

Cllr Dawson also claims that the Labour group has a ‘personal vendetta’ against him after he wrote a 36-page critique of the authority’s sport and active draft recreation strategy.

The proposals could see several leisure centres in the county borough close, with the council in favour of focusing on four ‘strategic’ sites.

READ MORE: Councillors speak out about potential closures of Caerphilly leisure centres

Cllr Kirby disputed such claims having expressed his own personal reservations about parts of the same strategy, which could see the leisure centre in his Pontllanfraith ward close.

He added: “I’ve spoken out against parts of the leisure strategy, and there’s no vendetta against me?

“[Labour] members are keen to uphold Party rules – unless they’re applied to their own conduct or attendance.”