The chief executive of Shropshire Council has apologised to a councillor who was removed from her position for not attending a meeting while caring for her terminally ill daughter.

Clive Wright said he is pleased that Councillor Jane Mackenzie has been reinstated to her Bayston Hill, Column and Sutton ward and said he was “sorry” for distress caused.

She was removed from the council on Monday under national law, which sees councillors removed if they do not attend a meeting for six months.

However, Councillor Mackenzie was reinstated after it was found she did attend a meeting on council business.

She had missed a number of meetings because her terminally-ill daughter Amy needed round-the-clock care. She died in May.

She has since accused Shropshire Council of showing “no compassion at all” and said the authority “couldn’t wait to get rid of me.”

But Mr Wright said: “I am very pleased that Councillor MacKenzie is to continue as the Shropshire Council member for Bayston Hill. 

“Our hearts have gone out to her, from both officers and members, following her recent and very sad bereavement. This has had a deep and completely understandable impact which we all want to accommodate.

“A complaint was received from an elected member and, under the law as set out in the Local Government Act, any councillor who fails to attend a council meeting for a period exceeding six consecutive months, without this absence being approved, ceases to be a member of the council. 

“This is not a council rule – it’s the law, with no discretion allowed on how it is to be applied. Permission cannot be sought or granted retrospectively.

 “Councillor MacKenzie was contacted by me personally, by phone, in the first instance and a reasonable amount of time was given for her to provide details of any meeting she might have attended when she was representing the council over the last six months.

“Unfortunately, no response was received in time to prevent the decision that Councillor MacKenzie was no longer a member of the council. 

“This was despite me also contacting the Labour group leader and as I understand it, his support being offered.”

Mr Wright added: ““Councillors do fantastic work and are involved in all sorts of meetings in their communities and so it’s impossible for officers to know about all of the meetings that a councillor attends. 

“Sometimes councillors will attend several meetings in a single evening. 

“This is why it is up to each councillor to be able to account for how they have met their obligation to attend meetings. 

“Attending meetings is an important way of gaining understanding of and representing communities in our democracy. 

“However, in this case officers did check all the records of our regular meetings such as Full Council, Cabinet and Scrutiny meetings but unfortunately no evidence could be found of Councillor MacKenzie attending one of these meetings in the last six months.

“Soon after the decision had to be taken, another councillor fortunately made us aware that Councillor MacKenzie had attended an external meeting representing the council. 

“This is just the sort of meeting that we would not necessarily know about and we were really pleased to be able to take it into account, quickly reconsider and reinstate Councillor MacKenzie.

“The council will often reconsider when it is justified and possible and this is very positive. 

“For example, recently, a number of key decisions on savings have been changed because of public opinion and this is all part of being open, transparent and listening to people.

“In this instance the law had to be followed through as would be expected of any council or public body. 

“However, we have drawn this matter to the attention of the Electoral Commission and so we can only hope that our experience will enable learning and improvement nationally. They certainly were keen to know what had happened. This is how the law evolves, with the benefit of experience.

“I am sorry for any distress this has caused to Councillor MacKenzie or anyone else involved.”