‘Can’t be acceptable’ for Tory MS to miss vote on Covid passes, says local Labour chair
It “can’t be acceptable” for a Tory MS to miss a crucial vote on Covid passes in the Senedd, a local Labour chair has said.
Bob Lloyd, chair of the Prestatyn and Meliden Labour Party, took aim at Gareth Davies, who represents the Vale of Clwyd, saying the area deserves a “representative who will bother to show up”.
Davies was at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester at the time of the vote on mandatory Covid-19 passes for nightclubs and large events in Wales which was passed by 28 votes to 27.
He did not vote despite the Senedd’s Llywydd, Elin Jones, saying on Tuesday she had even provided her personal phone number to enable him to do so.
But he blamed IT issues on his failure to do so, saying that he’s “deeply upset, frustrated and angry” about what happened.
Lloyd told the Rhyl Journal: “Gareth Davies has seemingly put aside his role as a councillor for Prestatyn South West and as a Member of the Welsh Parliament for the Vale of Clwyd in the last few days to attend the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
“As a result, he missed a vital vote on the introduction of COVID-19 vaccination passes in Wales as nobody could get hold of him to perform his duty, despite the Presiding Officer offering Davies her personal phone number to make contact and vote this way.
“Whatever anybody thinks of the merits or pitfalls of vaccination passes, it can’t be acceptable that our local representative is absent without leave on such an important vote – one that passed with 28 in favour, and 27 against (a tie would have resulted in the regulation being struck down).
“Davies has tried to explain away his absence by blaming it on the hybrid, Zoom/in-person nature of the Senedd, but anybody of coherent thought could point out that, had the Senedd not been in a hybrid session, him being in Manchester would have excluded him from the vote, anyway.
“The Vale of Clwyd and Prestatyn South West deserves a representative who will stand up for their beliefs, and, at the very least, a representative who will bother to show up at all.
“His behaviour in the last few days has confirmed that in Davies, unfortunately, we have neither.”
In a statement on the matter, Gareth Davies said: “I’m deeply upset, frustrated and angry at last night’s events and my inability to cast a vote against vaccine passports.
“Yesterday evening, IT challenges meant that I was unable to access the voting system.
“Throughout the voting period, I was speaking with the Chief Whip and Welsh Conservative staff members in an attempt to solve the IT issues.
“The Senedd currently operates under a hybrid system that means only half of our representatives can vote in the chamber, with others voting remotely from elsewhere.
“I was working and representing the group at the Conservative Party conference and I would have been able to vote remotely if I’d have been able to access the remote voting tools.
“Concerns have been raised with the Senedd’s ICT department and I will be making a personal statement in the Senedd later this afternoon.”