A CONSERVATIVE councillor has been charged with stealing £154,000 from a 91-year-old woman.

Police charged John Morgan, 74, with the theft of money from Beryl Gittens, of Newbury, between March 2005 and January 2012.

Mr Morgan is understood to have held power of attorney for Ms Gittens, who died last January.

The Vale of White Horse district councillor has stepped down from his position as vice-chairman of the council’s planning committee.

He also serves on Wantage Town Council.

Mr Morgan said: “I have come off the planning committee until this is all resolved, but I am staying on the district and probably the town council.”

He added: “The charge is unfounded, I refute all allegations.”

Conservative leader of the Vale council, Matthew Barber, said Mr Morgan should be treated as innocent until proven guilty.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail yesterday, Mr Barber said: “I have spoken to John and he denies all the charges

“He has taken the very sensible move of stepping down from all active duties to avoid embarrassment.

“We don’t want the planning committee to be seen to be embroiled in something like this.

“However, the allegations do not relate to his involvement as a councillor on the Vale.”

Mr Morgan, of Highclere Gardens, Wantage, has served on the Vale and town councils for five years, after spending 21 years on Newbury District and West Berkshire councils.

He works for seatbelt manufacturer Securon.

His wife, Gill Morgan, is also a Vale councillor, serving on the general licensing and other committees.

Wantage Mayor Charlotte Dickson said: “We were all very shocked.”

She added Mr Morgan was likely to step down from town council committees, and not attend any meetings until further notice.

Mr Morgan is also a member of the Court Hill Trust, which manages the Court Hill Centre on the Ridgeway, often used on school trips.

He has been bailed to appear at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, March 27.