Councillors accused of ‘fighting like ferrets in a sack’ amid ombudsman complaints
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
More than 20 complaints were made to the ombudsman about the behaviour of members of a Welsh community council in a year amid claims that councillors are “fighting like ferrets in a sack.”
A Freedom of Information request to the ombudsman by Plaid Cymru campaigner and local resident Ioan Bellin revealed complaints about Llantwit Fardre Community Council ranged from accountability and integrity, promotion of equality and respect to a duty to upholding the law although none were upheld.
Between October 2019 and December 2019 15 complaints were made, there were six between January and March 2020 and a further one between July 2020 and September 2020.
No figures were available from April to 9 June 2020 when there were no meetings of the community council.
In the wake of complaints a virtual training session on a conduct of conduct is being arranged for councillors and staff on Thursday, September 2, 2021.
Mr Bellin said: “Councillors on Llantwit Fardre Community Council are complaining about each other to the Public Ombudsman. It seems Llantwit Fardre councillors are fighting like ferrets in a sack, instead of representing residents.
“Every resident who pays community council tax to Llantwit Fardre Community Council should be concerned about the level of complaints about the way the authority has been operating.
“The public is right to expect the highest standards of behaviour from members of local authorities.
“While I note none of the complaints were upheld by the Ombudsman the fact there were so many concerns raised about a range of behaviours is worrying.”
‘Highest in Wales’
Ioan Bellin added: “The number of complaints raised about Llantwit Fardre over the 12-month period was the highest in Wales among community councils.
“While the community council has acknowledged there are problems and have arranged a virtual training session the reality is residents need a fresh start in May 2022.
“Think of the time and money that has been spent by public authorities already on these complaints because councillors refuse to get on with each other, continuing to bicker, rather than represent their constituents.”
The council which has an annual budget of £264,000 is made up of 12 councillors – five Labour, four Conservatives and three Independents.
At the election in May 2022 residents of Llantwit Fardre Council will elect 13 councillors.
Llantwit Fardre Community Council has been approached for comment.