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Council hits back after ‘tin-pot dictator’ allegations

27 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Mario Kreft. Chair of Care Forum Wales

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

A local authority has hit back at an outspoken care home owner who called the council’s leader a ‘tin-pot dictator’.

Leader Cllr Jason McLellan was criticised by Care Forum Wales chairman Mario Kreft after Cllr McLellan muted another councillor when chairing a cabinet meeting.

Cllr Bobby Feeley criticised the council for a ‘lack of care and compassion’ when setting an 8.8% rise for care home fees paid by the council.

Cllr Feeley, Denbighshire’s former cabinet member for social services, was critical of Denbighshire accusing the council of not engaging with care homes but was silenced when Cllr McLellan pressed the mute button.

This led to Mr Kreft calling Cllr McLellan a ‘tin-pot dictator’ and questioning the democratic process.

According to Care Forum Wales, Denbighshire’s 8.8% rise is the lowest in Wales and compares to 18-20% set by Conwy.


The disparity follows Denbighshire receiving a 3.8% rise in its local government settlement, the highest in North Wales, compared to Conwy’s 2%, the joint lowest in Wales.

But Denbighshire has now hit back at Mr Kreft.

A spokeswoman for Denbighshire County Council said, “Mr Kreft has chosen to make allegations in the press about the conduct of the meeting of Denbighshire County Council’s cabinet on 19 March 2024. It is clear that Mr Kreft has either not viewed the webcast of the meeting in its entirety or has misunderstood the procedure.

“The meetings of cabinet are open, transparent, and webcast live. The meetings are governed by rules of procedure set out in the council’s constitution. These rules provide that discussions are directed through the chair of the meeting. On Tuesday 19 March 2024, when discussing setting residential and care home fees for 2024/25, Cllr Jason McLellan, who was chairing, allowed all those members who were in attendance an opportunity to speak.

“The reason for muting Cllr Feeley’s microphone was that she was speaking when the chair was attempting to allow others to speak in turn. Cllr Feeley, who was attending remotely, was unaware that she was speaking over the chair and did apologise to the chair.

“Cllr Feeley had at that point already spoken in the debate and was invited to speak again after other members had been given an opportunity to speak. There was a good debate of the issue which was conducted in an open and respectful way. The video of the meeting is available for anyone to view on the council’s website.”


The spokeswoman went on to say that Denbighshire approved the proposed 8.8% increase in residential and nursing home care fees.

Denbighshire’s spokeswoman added, “Considering that this is significantly more than the 3.8% increase received in our settlement, this decision reflects that. Even in the face of significant financial challenge, the council is prioritising the provision of care in the community.”

She continued, “Denbighshire currently spends around £13 million on approximately 364 placements in 82 homes. With this increase, expenditure is set to increase by over £1 million.

“This strives to strike the delicate balance between navigating challenging financial constraints and ensuring that we are maintaining a sustainable future for the care sector in Denbighshire, and whilst this decision comes with financial implications, it reflects our priorities as a council and upholds our commitment to prioritising care provision in our community.

“We value our care providers in Denbighshire and remain committed to fostering an open and fair relationship with them.”

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