An "invisible" city councillor has resigned his seat so he can focus his efforts on becoming an MP 100 miles away.

Tom Hayes, of the St Clement's ward in Oxford, will be stepping down two months before local elections in May having served as a councillor for 10 years.

Mr Hayes is battling for a "critical" parliamentary seat in Bournemouth East with Labour selecting "experienced campaigner" Jesse Erlam to replace him as St Clement's new candidate.

Liberal Democrat group leader Dr Chris Smowton said: "This confirms what has been clear for a while, that it isn't possible to run for parliament on the south coast and effectively represent residents here in Oxford at the same time.

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"I look forward to our candidate for St Clement's, Geraldine Coggins, providing the better representation the residents of St Clement's need this May."

The Bournemouth hopeful had previously been involved in an attendance spat with the county council's highways chief Andrew Gant who claimed Mr Hayes had "basically moved out".

Oxford Mail: Andrew Gant.Andrew Gant. (Image: Ed Nix.)

Mr Gant and Labour councillor Diko Walcott, who represents the Blackbird Leys ward, had the joint lowest attendance at the time in November at 11 per cent. 

The Oxford Labour group has meanwhile paid tribute to the city councillor of 10 years.

City council leader Susan Brown said: "Tom has been a hard-working councillor and a passionate advocate of a green agenda designed to improve the health of our city and making it a cleaner and more pleasant place to live.

"He led the creation of the first Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change in the UK in 2019 and worked hard with the county council to get the zero emission policies off the ground.

Oxford Mail: City councillor Tom Hayes pictured outside Honest Stationery in Cowley Road. Photo Ed NixCity councillor Tom Hayes pictured outside Honest Stationery in Cowley Road. Photo Ed Nix

"During his time in the cabinet, he developed and delivered the public-private partnership which provided Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO), including the world's largest hybrid battery, the UK's largest EV superhub at Redbridge Park and Ride."

Mr Hayes added: “I have enjoyed my time as a councillor, deputy leader and cabinet member, and am proud to have delivered greener transport and plans to make the city a better and healthier place to live.

Oxford Mail: A Liberal Democrat flyer was circulated to St Clement's residents in Autumn last year.A Liberal Democrat flyer was circulated to St Clement's residents in Autumn last year. (Image: Noor Qurashi)

"As a backbench councillor, I have just concluded some important casework in the ward and now feel able to resign with immediate effect.”

Mr Hayes had said at the time that his missed attendances were "owing to Covid and a very sad bereavement".

A member of the public said of a new Independent Oxford Alliance St Clement's candidate: "Well anything is better than invisible councillor Tom Hayes so you’ve got my vote just for that."

When asked why Mr Hayes had chosen this time to resign, a Labour spokesman said: "He needs to be in a position to focus more of his time on Bournemouth.

"It is a balance of continuity – he’s stayed as a councillor as long as possible.

"He does it with our blessing and we all move on."

The Bournemouth East prospective parliamentary candidate did not wish to respond to questions around his attendance record when we approached him following the resignation announcement.