Election row after candidate threatens to boycott pub for endorsing rival
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A council election candidate who told a pub landlady that neither he nor his family would visit her pub again after she endorsed a rival has defended his comments, saying it would have been a very awkward encounter.
Independents@Swansea candidate Mark Tribe said he didn’t care which way Delyth Jones, who runs The Plough and Harrow in Llangyfelach, Swansea, voted but that he felt let down when she endorsed Labour candidate Rob Marshall on Facebook.
Mr Tribe, who has served as a Llangyflelach community councillor since 2017, said he had helped Mrs Jones during Covid.
In a message to Mrs Jones, he said: “Del, just got back from the Plough with our Sunday lunches and having a pint and saw your endorsement for Rob Marshall on FB (Facebook). To say I am disappointed is an understatement after all the assistance and support I have given the Plough over the past couple of years, even delivering your lunches to residents who are unable to drive. U can guarantee that neither myself nor more family will be frequenting your pub again.”
Swansea Labour leader Rob Stewart was critical of Mr Tribe’s comments, saying councillors should work for everyone in their community, regardless of who they voted for.
Mr Stewart claimed another resident in Llangyfelach had had a similar type of reaction from Mr Tribe.
Mr Tribe told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he felt his message to Mrs Jones was “pretty harmless”.
He said: “I really don’t care how she votes – it’s entirely up to her. And it’s not telling other people not to frequent the pub.
“It’s purely because it would have been so awkward to visit for me and my family.”
The 64-year-old said he felt he had helped Mrs Jones a lot, including with her idea to put up a sign on the green outside the pub.
He added: “We used to go to the pub every Sunday, we held meetings regularly about how we can improve the village.”
Mr Tribe said he was taken aback by Mrs Jones’ public support of Mr Marshall. “The whole family was,” he said.
Asked if he felt his comment about not going to the pub was petty, he said he didn’t think so.
“I believe it’s pettiness on behalf of Rob Stewart and Swansea Labour, looking to attack me,” he said. “It was a ‘nothing’ comment – I thought she was a friend.”
Mrs Jones said she felt Mr Tribe’s comment about not going to her pub again for the reason stated was “totally wrong”.
She said she was an upstanding member of the community and ordinary businesswoman who should be allowed to say who she backed without any comeback from a candidate.
“If you win an election, you need to be unbiased to all people,” she said. “I’m allowed freedom of speech.”
Mrs Jones said Mr Tribe had made a phone call on her behalf when she enquired about putting up a sign on the green.
She added: “I would expect a community councillor to go and help. I’m not for sale though.”
Mr Tribe, a former Royal Mail worker and school caretaker said he’d had a positive reaction from people while canvassing, with fly-tipping, speeding and the state of the roads among the priorities raised.
He also responded to Mr Stewart’s claims that he had given another resident short shrift after she canvassed for the Labour candidate.
Mr Tribe said he had helped the resident concerned and later had received a message from her saying she wanted Labour to win in Swansea but that she would not vote and that he was the best candidate for Llangyfelach.
He replied saying he totally understood her position, and then received another message from her saying she had helped Labour canvas and that she felt conflicted about this and hoped they would remain friends. She urged Mr Tribe to “go get them in May”, and said she didn’t know much about Mr Marshall.
Mr Tribe said he’d told her that he didn’t think it was possible for them to remain as Facebook friends and so removed her. “Again there were no threats,” he said.
Voters in Swansea will choose 75 councillors at the ballot box on May 5.
– The other candidates standing for Llangyfelach, apart from Mr Tribe and Mr Marshall, are Euan Renesto, of the Conservatives, and Plaid Cymru’s Adrian Roberts.
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