ONE of Worcestershire's most important sitting politicians has been elected to another council - nearly 200 miles away in DEVON.

Councillor Judy Pearce is the current Tory deputy leader of Wychavon District Council and carries a high profile across the county, not least in her work in helping create the South Worcestershire Development Plan.

But your Worcester News can reveal how she decided to stand for election at South Hams District Council last month, and was duly elected.

The veteran councillor owns a house in Thurlestone, a stunning coastal location in south Devon, and won a by-election contest.

Rival politicians say the move "beggars belief" and have labelled it "bizarre", but she has not broken any rules.

The two locations are 184 miles apart and are around three-and-a-half hours away by car.

Cllr Pearce sold her old Wychavon property, which was near Dodderhill, some time ago and on her register of members' interests now rents a flat in Pershore as well as owning the Devon property.

As well as being the deputy leader in Wychavon, the biggest council in Worcestershire, she is the cabinet member for planning, infrastructure housing.

She insists her split duties are manageable, and says it has the blessing of Wychavon's Tory leadership, despite being based in Devon.

"I bought a house in Devon in March last year and I've been travelling back and forth since then, it hasn't caused me any problems," she said.

"I can do it in three hours. It's all legal and above board and I'm planning to step down at Wychavon District Council next year anyway at the elections.

"A by-election came up down here and I thought 'I want to go for it' - it's a new challenge and I'm back and forth all the time."

Councillor Peter Pinfield, a Labour councillor in Wychavon, said: "It's bizarre - there's obviously nothing to stop you doing it but I find it quite strange.

"She's the deputy leader here, how can she properly represent two organisations 180 miles apart?

"Considering she holds such an important position it beggars belief."

But the council's leader, Councillor Paul Middlebrough, said he has "no issues" with it.

"She travels back three or four times a week and pays for that herself," he said.

"She is doing a first class job for me, she was elected properly and is on the electoral register in Devon."