Merthyr Tydfil council leader suspended
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
The leader of Merthyr Tydfil Council has been suspended for seven months for breaching the council’s code of conduct.
At a hearing in December, the Adjudication Panel Wales found six breaches of the council’s code of conduct by Councillor Kevin O’Neill.
It had received a referral from the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in July last year in relation to a number of allegations concerning Cllr O’Neill.
The first allegation was that he had failed to declare orally the existence and nature of a personal interest in the business of the authority relating to a property at Luther Lane at an inter-agency meeting on August 15, 2018.
The second allegation was that he had a prejudicial interest in relation to the business of the authority regarding the property at Luther Lane and was in breach of the code in not withdrawing from the room when the property was being considered at the meeting.
The third allegation was that Cllr O’Neill had a prejudicial interest in relation to the business of the authority regarding the property at Luther Lane and was in breach of the code in that he was seeking to influence a decision about that business and made oral representations at the inter-agency meeting.
The fourth allegation was that his email to the director of social services on August 16, 2018 failed to include details of his personal interest in the business of the authority in relation to the property at Luther Lane, and that the e-mail sought to influence a decision about that business and made written representations about that business in which he had a prejudicial interest.
The fifth allegation related to whether his actions in speaking at the meeting on August 15, 2018 and sending written correspondence to the director of social services the next day were seeking to influence a decision about the business of the property at Luther Lane and whether such conduct, if proved, could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or authority into disrepute.
The sixth allegation related to the meeting with the former chief executive of the council on March 5, 2019 and whether Cllr O’Neill’s conduct towards the former chief executive was inappropriate and failed to show respect and consideration to him.
The tribunal found unanimously that he had failed to comply with the code in relation to all of the allegations and decided that Cllr O’Neill should be suspended from acting as a member of the council for seven months.
Cllr O’Neill has the right to ask the High Court for leave to appeal the decision and the tribunal recommended the monitoring officer provides him with further training in relation to the code of conduct, the meaning of “prejudicial interests” and the approach to be taken to, and the status of, the advice of the monitoring officer within a month of him returning.
Merthyr Tydfil Council has been contacted for comment.
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