A SWITZERLAND based parish councillor has admitted it 'wasn't great' that he missed nearly a year of meetings.

The year after Ryan Sparrowhawk was elected to Buckhurst Hill Parish Council in 2015 with a commanding 64 per cent majority, he was a regular at full meetings and establishment committees.

Following May 2016 however, he attended just three meetings - the last on May 25, 2017 - choosing instead to work as a teaching assistant in northern Switzerland.

His absence caused consternation amongst fellow councillors, with Cllr Gavin Chambers suggesting he was 'embarrassing himself' by not representing his constituents.

Today the Zofingen resident announced he would return home and take up his seat again within the next month.

He said: "I offered to stand down in October. But they said 'for the better of the parish can you still on until May?' I said 'of course'.

"I intended to be back in six months but I got engaged. I have been spending time with my family. I had to be here for support.

"I now want to move back to Buckhurst Hill. I am coming back in the next few weeks. I am coming back for good. I have been in contact with the parish clerk regularly. I do feel that having a year out is not great.

"Yes I wasn't there for a year, but I did explain my situation to them."

Cllr Sparrowhawk also responded to criticism that followed an article The Guardian published in January, which revealed the parish council had twice voted to extend his approved leave of absence.

He said: "I don't get paid to go to these meetings. It costs me money. I do it because I care.

"I am a normal working class person. It does hurt me when people say stuff. I am out here because of family."

Mr Sparrowhawk was elected as a Conservative but now operates as an independent, after his party membership elapsed last year.

He told The Guardian that a councillor had recommended he cancel his standing order to the Conservative mParty when he moved out to Switzerland.

Prior to the announcement he was coming home, Cllr Chambers suggested Cllr Sparrowhawk would be welcomed back to the council.