Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Tory councillor slapped with month suspension for opening cafe without planning permission

02 Feb 2022 3 minute read
(Left To Right) Cllr Vincent Bailey, Alun Cairns Mp, Cllr Leighton Rowlands

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

A councillor in the Vale of Glamorgan has been suspended for a month for opening a cafe without planning permission.

Conservative Councillor Leighton Rowlands, representing the Dyfan ward in Barry, opened the Watering Hole coffee shop and wine bar in June 2019.

But the planning department at Vale of Glamorgan council ordered the business to close two months later and it eventually shut in early 2020 after a long legal wrangle.

Cllr Rowlands, who has sat on the council’s planning committee since 2017, claimed he had limited knowledge of planning law and didn’t realise he couldn’t open the cafe without permission.

He said: “Like most new councillors who sit on the planning committee, we have training but it’s always a whistle-stop tour, and the officers tend to use that phrase quite often. I had difficulty understanding planning law, like any member of the public would as well.”

‘Several complaints’ 

The Watering Hole, on St Nicholas Road in Barry, was opened by Cllr Rowlands with his then business partner Sam Lewis. Soon after the opening, the business attracted several complaints about noise, disturbance and parking overspill.

Planning law means that when a building changes use, in this case from a shop to a cafe, permission must be sought from the council for the change of use.

Cllr Rowlands had applied to the Vale council for the change of use but opened the business before any decision was made, in a clear breach of the rules.

After Cllr Rowlands was made aware he had broken the rules, he resigned from the business. But as well as breaching planning rules, last year the Public Services Ombudsman found he breached the councillors’ code of conduct, because as a planning committee member he should have known more about planning law and he brought the council into disrepute.

Now the standards committee at Vale of Glamorgan council has suspended Cllr Rowlands for one month, following a hearing on January 26.

He told the committee that planning rules are “very complicated” and admitted he should have asked for more advice.

He said: “I’m a new councillor, and I don’t think the training was adequate. Planning rules are very complicated. I’m not a solicitor, I’m not a planning officer, and when I did ask advice from a planning officer it was very grey. In hindsight, I should have asked for more advice. I don’t know why I didn’t do that. Sorry — I should have taken more steps to do so.”


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

7 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Quornby
Quornby
7 months ago

Was he being paid commtIttee allowances while doing a job that was too complicated for him?

What Ismyname
What Ismyname
7 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

Probably, in the same way as his fellow Tories in the Westminster government are being paid to do jobs that are too complicated for them.

Marc
Marc
7 months ago

Is it April 1st already?

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
7 months ago

A wine bar? He was serving alcohol without a premises or personal licence and hasn’t been arrested?
Am I missing something here?

Gareth Wyn Jones
Gareth Wyn Jones
7 months ago

Can we see a pattern here on how the tories work from top to bottom?

Paul
Paul
7 months ago

He should stand for a seat in Powys. No action against a Councillor, member of planning Committee, exceeded the planning permission for his caravan site, used the same excuse, didn’t understand planning law. Another one puts anti-bird nesting netting on a hedge before planning approval, Powys takes no action and when protestors remove the illegal netting they are arrested, charged and convicted for criminal damage. Corruption?

JAD
JAD
7 months ago

Who’s the strangely balding kid in the middle? Shouldn’t he be in school?

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.