Labour councillor under investigation for abusing staff at Indian restaurant
A Labour councillor is under investigation following an incident at an Indian restaurant in which he allegedly abused staff and refused to pay for his meal.
Staff at the Taj restaurant in Merthyr Tydfil called the police after Cllr Gareth Lewis appeared drunk and tried to leave without paying for the food he had eaten.
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council confirmed there is an on-going investigation into the conduct of Cllr Lewis who represents Troedyrhiw, Pentrebach and Abercanaid.
A staff member at the restaurant told Nation.Cymru that Cllr Lewis, who is also on the Chair of Governors at Afon Taf High School and Abercanaid Community School was “drunk” and “didn’t know what he was doing”.
The restaurant’s owner, Mr Miah wrote a formal complaint to the Leader of Merthyr Tydfil Labour Group, Darren Roberts.
A member of staff from the Taj Indian restaurant in Pontmorlais said Cllr Lewis came back to the premises the next day “to sort out the money”.
He added: “The police have been to us and we’ve told them we don’t want to take any further action against him.
“He’s come to us and told us he’s sorry and that he was drunk.”
Leader of Merthyr Tydfil Labour Group, Darren Roberts said: “I can confirm that I, and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council have been made aware of this alleged incident.
“There is currently an investigation on-going and until this is concluded both myself or the Council are not able to provide any further comments.”
A Merthyr Council spokesperson said: “Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council can confirm that they have been made aware of this alleged incident. There is currently an investigation on-going and until this is concluded, the Council is not able to provide any further comment.”
The council also declined to confirm whether Cllr Lewis will be suspended during the investigation but a source told Nation.Cymru he is still attending council meetings.
Cllr Gareth Lewis’s LinkedIn profile states he is employed as a “case worker” for Gerald Jones MP who is currently competing with MP Beth Winter for the Merthyr Tydfil and Upper Cynon seat after boundary changes were made to their existing constituencies.
Gerald Jones has denied that Cllr Lewis works for him.
When Nation.Cymru made Mr Jones aware of the LinkedIn profile that states Cllr Lewis has worked for him since 2015, he did not respond.
Leader of the Council Geraint Thomas said: “Mr Miah complained to me and I have forwarded the complaint to the monitoring officer at the council and to the Leader of the Labour group. As it’s a Police matter, I can’t make any further comment at the present time.”
It is understood by Nation.Cymru that a video of Cllr Lewis at the restaurant has been sent as evidence to the Public Services Ombudsman along with statements from staff at the restaurant, although Merthyr Tydfil Council and Leader of Merthyr Tydfil Labour Group, Darren Roberts said they did not wish to comment on who was carrying out the investigation.
Cllr Lewis also works as a case worker for Labour Member of Senedd for Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney and Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism, Dawn Bowden.
Dawn Bowden MS for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney said: “All staffing issues in my constituency office are dealt with in accordance with the procedures and employment guidelines for Senedd Member support staff. I will make no further public comment on any such matters at this time”.
Cllr Gareth Lewis did not respond to Nation.Cymru’s request for statement.
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