Ex-Plaid councillor slams party chief executive, calling him ‘unprofessional’
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
A former Plaid Cymru councillor has accused his old party of an “unprofessional attempt” to influence “voting intentions” after they accused him of providing “incorrect” information to the media.
Plaid suspended its former Pensarn ward Conwy County councillor, Trystan Lewis, after he decided to stand as an independent against his former party colleague Susan Lloyd-Williams in Llansannan.
Cllr Lewis claimed villagers asked him to stand in tomorrow’s local election, as Cllr Lloyd-Williams, who has represented Llansannan since 2008, had moved from out of Conwy county to live in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire. Cllr Lewis, who lives in neighbouring Llanfair Talhaiarn said he asked Plaid to hold an internal hustings event, to allow local party members to select their preferred candidate, but claimed this request was turned down.
“There was a hustings supposed to be held. That didn’t happen.” Now Plaid’s chief executive Carl Harris, in a letter to party members, claimed Cllr Lewis, a former Plaid candidate for Aberconwy in the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections, had not put his name forward before the time limit elapsed.
In the letter Mr Harris said: “Following a recent news item, I have been asked by the Party Chair, Alun Ffred Jones, to provide clarity to members within the county of Conwy regarding the electoral ward of Llansannan and the deeply regrettable decision of a party member to stand as an Independent against the official Plaid Cymru candidate. “I can confirm that the information provided to the media by independent candidate Trystan Lewis is incorrect.
“A nomination process for the Llansannan ward was conducted, with party members in the ward notified of the opening and closing dates for expressions of interest. Only one expression of interest was received by incumbent councillor Sue Lloyd-Williams.
“The expression of interest from Trystan Lewis was received after the close of nominations – and some days after Mr Lewis had already indicated to colleagues that he would be willing to stand in a different ward. As you will be aware, it is against the party’s standing orders to contest an election in opposition to the official Plaid Cymru candidate.
“As a result, Mr Lewis was suspended the moment the party became aware of his election literature, and he was encouraged to not submit his nomination papers to the local authority. Mr Lewis decided to proceed and continues to contest an election against Plaid Cymru.”
In response Cllr Lewis said: “I’m disappointed that the chief executive has sent this unusual and unprofessional letter to members in an obvious attempt to influence the local voting intentions just days before the election. I was kicked out of the party on March 8. It is quite extraordinary that Plaid should choose to send a statement to the press to influence voting intentions.
“I’ve spoken to Plaid members in Conwy who are very disappointed at the tone and the content and the timing of Carl Harris’ correspondence.” He added: “I asked for an extension of the deadline because of the total lack of clarity in the local processes when it came to choosing candidates.
“I was aware of the deadline, and I was also aware that deadlines had been much more flexible in other areas where Plaid was struggling for candidates. When people approached me in Llansannan to stand, I wanted to ensure that Plaid members in Llansannan had a choice of who would represent them in the forthcoming election, and I would have been happy to go through the democratic hustings process, and I would have been happy with the democratic decision.
“Had they not chosen me I would have accepted their democratic decision. If the democratic decision by members of Plaid was the incumbent, I wouldn’t have stood. The current candidate had decided to live outside the county, and I felt it was only fair to put the matter to local members for them to have the opportunity to decide.”
*The only other candidate standing in Llansannan is Loren Lloyd-Pepperell for the Conservative Party.
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