A DEPTFORD councillor has resigned just one week before he would have been disqualified for his "appalling" attendance rate at meetings.

Labour's Councillor Joseph Folorunso, who receives an annual allowance of £9,812, wrote in his resignation letter that he was leaving to focus his attention on the orphanage set up with his wife in Togo in 2008.

Cllr Folorunso had just a seven per cent attendance rate at the council since August and would have been absent for six months if he had failed to attend the full council meeting next week. Under local authority rules that means he would have been legally disqualified.

The teacher, who regularly travels to Africa to preach Christianity, was elected to Evelyn ward in 2010, the same year his wife died, and in his resignation letter he referred to the tragedy and his Togo orphanage.

He wrote: "My passion to complete the project got stronger since then.  The project eventually was completed in March of last year and officially opened in October 2012.  To make sure the opening is properly managed I am required to be on the project.

"Since I have arrived here, I have come to realise how demanding and time consuming it is to run the orphanage.  I therefore, thought it necessary to put in all my efforts in doing this charity work and resign my position as a Councillor in Lewisham."

Chair of the Labour Group Councillor Vicky Foxcroft said: "Joseph has taken an incredibly difficult but honourable personal decision to step down as a councillor. I respect his decision and we wish him and the orphanage well."

But leader of Lewisham Lib Dems Councillor Chris Maines branded the attendance record "appalling" and said the councillor's email inbox was full and he had not been seen at the town hall or local assemblies since August.

He said: "I think it's a huge shame that people representing areas like Deptford, which has lots of problems and needs strong representation, aren't there and aren't doing the job they were elected to do."

Cllr Maines added: "He should either have resigned earlier or got on with the job."

A by-election will be held on March 28.