Report finds council shouldn’t have sanctioned councillor over Welsh language row
Richard Youle – Local Democracy Reporter
A community council shouldn’t have sanctioned a councillor at the centre of a Welsh language row because it didn’t have the power to judge code of conduct matters, a report has found.
Mumbles Community Council removed Cllr Rob Marshall from his post as co-chairman of a culture committee last year and said he should send a local primary school, YGG Llwynderw, a written apology after the school complained that Cllr Marshall told it that Welsh couldn’t be sung by a children’s choir at a festival organised by the council.
The school’s complaint had four grounds, including correspondence from and the conduct of Cllr Marshall.
Cllr Marshall was unhappy with the sanctions and felt he had been made a scapegoat.
The way the complaint about him was handled has now been looked into by a panel comprising two Mumbles community councillors and the assistant clerk.
The panel said it was “generally happy” with the way three of the grounds of complaint were dealt with, but that it was concerned about the one relating to the conduct of Cllr Marshall. This was because when the council took the step of sanctioning him last year, it was based on a report which, as well as alleging he had acted against standing orders, said he had not acted in accordance with the code of conduct – and this went beyond the council’s remit.
The panel sought advice from an external body called One Voice Wales, which represents town and community councils. A senior One Voice Wales official said the council should not have not have made a recommendation about sanctions based on a conclusion that Cllr Marshall had breached the code of conduct – and definitely not recommended that those sanctions be voted on – because it didn’t, in his view, have the power in law to do so.
The panel accepted One Voice Wales’s position, but also said that the council had followed due process in all other respects.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Marshall said he was pleased with aspects of the panel’s report.
“It meant I had a valid complaint,” he said. And he said he has since been voted back as chairman of the culture, tourism and communications committee.
But Cllr Marshall said he was disappointed with the time it had taken for the panel to reach its findings, and claimed that some of the evidence he had provided had been “glossed over”. He said he intended to take the matter further.
Cllr Martin O’Neill, chairman of the community council, said he was happy with the panel’s findings and that the council would learn from them. He said it was Cllr Marshall’s prerogative if he wished to take matters further. “As chairman I have not got a view on that,” he said.
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