UNDER-FIRE Swindon councillor Barrie Thomp-son has rounded on his critics from his Spanish sickbed.

The Advertiser revealed on Saturday that councillor Thompson, (Lab, Parks) had represented his ward from Spain since the summer.

We told how he was still collecting his official allowance but planned to step down before the council elections scheduled for May.

Robert Buckland, Conservative candidate for South Swindon, criticised coun Thompson and said that the Labour Party needed to answer to the people of Swindon.

Although the Adver spoke to the beleaguered councillor in Spain, he has now written to the paper to hit back at his critics, saying he is there recovering from illness.

"It is said that I receive in the region of £7,400 in allowances for being a Swindon borough councillor," he said.

"What isn't said is that that is a gross amount for 12 months.

"Income tax has to be deducted, bringing the figure closer to £5,000, paid monthly.

"Despite having stated it on a number of occasions in the council chamber, it has not been said that I give it away to voluntary organisations.

"Along with all Labour Party members I voted against the increase in allowances proposed by the Conservatives last year.

"Also I, along with Fay Howard and Steve Allsopp, decided to give the increase allowance to Dial-A-Ride to offset the massive reductions in grants to voluntary organisations implemented by the Conservatives.

"And the allowance I received stopped on February 13, the day I indicated to the council that I wanted to resign.

"Secondly, it is said that I haven't attended any council meetings since July. On the contrary I attended two, if not three, meetings during July and August.

"I also represent the people of Swindon on the South West Regional Assembly, South West Skills Alliance and, was appointed by the council as a director to the Local Government Information Unit.

"During the period in question I attended up to 12 meetings.

"I receive no additional allowance for this work and the cost of travelling to London, Exeter and Taunton, which probably amounted to something like £500, I could claim for but have not.

"So, far from coming to Spain on a jolly at the expense of local taxpayers, I came to Spain to recuperate and made the decision to retire for my health.

"I have informed the council that I do not want to receive any more allowance as, due to ill health, I am unable to attend any more meetings.

"I am standing down as a councillor from May and my duties will be covered more than adequately by Fay Howard and Steve Allsopp for the next 11 weeks.

"I will be returning to Swindon on about May 7.

"I have been proud to have served as a councillor for Parks and am only sorry, but not surprised, that the Tories have chosen to misrepresent my last few months in this way."