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Mayor faces call for his resignation after he appears to admit illegal dumping

24 May 2024 4 minute read
Elliot Penn, Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan

Martin Shipton

A Mayor is facing a call for his resignation after appearing to admit that he had illegally deposited commercial waste at a council facility meant only for domestic waste.

The apparent admission was made by Labour councillor Elliot Penn, who was only installed as Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan earlier this month.

During a discussion at the authority’s environment and regeneration scrutiny committee about waste facilities in the county borough, Cllr Penn said: “The permits for commercial vehicles – I’ve benefitted from this myself – I’ve quite often found that they’re one of the later slots in the day and it’s sometimes difficult for a tradesman if they’re on their own to empty a vehicle before the site closes.

“I have to say I haven’t used the trade permit for about 18 months, I think. I think it was 15 quid when I last got one – absolute bargain. You could do 20, 25 quid and it would still be an absolute bargain.”


When Colin Smith, the council’s operational manager for neighbourhood services was invited to respond to Cllr Penn’s comments, he said: “It’s illegal to take commercial waste into the sites, so there is that restriction there. The permit is designed to allow residents to borrow a van or a trailer to take material to the site – and that’s what the permit system is set up [to do].

“We can’t actually charge for permits either. It’s an administration charge – facilitating that, producing the permit and posting it out etc or emailing it out. I have to clarify it’s not for taking unlimited commercial waste – that’s not what the facility’s there for. It’s only licensed for domestic [waste].”

Cllr Penn came in again to say: “Just to clarify that when I’ve been working on my own house, the only vehicle I’ve got is my works vehicle, and that’s when I’ve used it. But I think even for a full van load, 15 quid, for someone borrowing a van is an absolute bargain, and as I said if it was 20 or 25 quid it would still be very good value for money. We could generate a little bit more income, I think, from those visits with the vehicles.”


Plaid Cymru councillor Mark Hooper, who also sits on the scrutiny committee, contacted NationCymru to say: “Cllr Penn displayed remarkable audacity in using the household waste facility for commercial activities until an officer informed him of the illegality of his actions. He promptly reversed course. The public can judge for themselves by viewing the recording [of the committee meeting on May 22 at around 58 minutes] to discern which version of Elliot Penn is more credible.

“Resolving this issue should be straightforward for the Mayor of the Vale. His permit would have specified the waste being disposed of; he simply needs to reconcile this with the purported work conducted at his residence. If he is unable to do so, he should resign from the mayoral position immediately to prevent tarnishing the council’s reputation further.”

Cllr Lis Burnett, the Labour leader of the council, contacted us to say: “I knew Elliot before he was elected to the council in 2022 and I’m aware that he had to clear out his late mother’s house. His mum was a hoarder and there was quite a lot of material to dispose of.

“I know what he said in committee could be misconstrued, but all he was doing was disposing of household waste.”

Cllr Burnett explained that cars did not need a permit to use the waste sites, but vans did, because they were classified as commercial vehicles. It was, however, possible for commercial vehicles like vans to be used for domestic purposes, and that was what had happened in Cllr Penn’s case.

Cllr Penn told NationCymru: “I’m aware of what I said and I’m aware of what would’ve been construed from my words. As I stated I have used the service and it was to clear garden waste when we cleared our overgrown garden and to clear accumulated unwanted materials from my garage.

“As I said I only have a van as it is the only vehicle I can use and that’s why I needed the permit. I have never used this service for commercial waste.”

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