A testy meeting: Cabinet member apologises for telling councillor to ‘grow a pair’ in school row
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
A cabinet member apologised for telling a councillor to “grow a pair” in an angry outburst during a testy committee meeting.
Education portfolio holder Cllr Phyl Davies hit out at Cllr John Morris at a meeting of the Governance and Audit committee on Friday, January 21.
Cllr Morris hit back at the “personal” comments, and the the cabinet member later apologised after “reflecting” on them.
The exchange happened as Powys County Councillors went through a report by internal auditors into the failings of the merger of two secondary schools.
In February 2017 Powys County Council’s cabinet announced that the high schools in Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells would be merged and become a dual stream 11-18 secondary school on both sites.
Rebranded as Ysgol Calon Cymru, the school opened its doors on September 1, 2018, with a single headteacher.
But since then, the school has been plagued with financial problems and new proposals are being lined up for the school.
Education portfolio holder Cllr Phyl Davies said: “The report is a polite way of putting that this was a shocking decision.
“We have a school that has a serious deficit budget that does put a risk on the wider council.”
He believed that since the Estyn inspection in 2019 the council had moved “a long way” forward.
Cllr Davies said: “Some of the councillors that are saying this was a bad decision are also the ones that are asking for a moratorium on small school closures.
“We have councillors of all political colours throwing their toys out of the pram when we have educationalists giving us a strategy.
“I am giving assurances that lessons have been learned and politicians need to learn them, yourself included Cllr John (Morris) in terms of the schools in your own area.”
Llanbedr Church in Wales primary school is set to be closed at the end of August.
It is in the ward of Crickhowell represented by the Governance and Audit committee chairman, Cllr John Morris, who has spoken against its closure.
Cllr Davies continued : “This report is a clear indication that decisions made by politicians of the past are weak.
“They should stick to their guns, grow a pair, and make the decisions that need to be made.”
Cllr Morris said: “You’re getting rather personal.
“Decisions are made by cabinet members and not by all councillors. The public need to understand that.”
Later in the meeting Cllr Davies apologised to members for his comments.
Cllr William Powell pointed out that Cllr Davies had been “reflecting” on his comments in the online meeting’s chat function. Cllr Powell said it could be “beneficial” for the public record if that reflection is noted.
Cllr Davies said: “I do apologise.”
He added that he shouldn’t have used Cllr Morris as an example when there are a “number of other councillors” that have conducted themselves far less professionally than Cllr Morris had over Llanbedr.
Cllr Morris said: “Thank you, all members are bound by a code of conduct and the more responsibility one has the more important that is.”
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