Tory politician apologises after ‘moonlighting’ complaint
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
A Conservative politician has apologised after breaking the rules whilst serving as an MS and Denbighshire County Councillor, using Senedd resources for both jobs.
Vale of Clwyd MS Gareth Davies serves on Denbighshire County Council in the Prestatyn South-West ward but has only attended 50% of council meetings since mid-June.
But that’s not what has landed him in hot water.
Fellow Denbighshire councillor Paul Penlington made an official complaint to the Senedd, citing that Mr Davies was ‘moonlighting’ and breaking Senedd rules by doing other work from his Cardiff office – namely attending virtual Denbighshire council meetings.
A Senedd Member currently receives £67,649 a year, and according to council records, Mr Davies also receives a £14,217 council salary, plus pension contributions.
A spokesman for Mr Davies apologised and said he would be stepping down from his role as a councillor in May, adding that he was donating his council salary to charity.
When asked for the details of when the donation was or is being made, and to whom, the spokesman was unable to comment in the time-frame provided.
A Welsh Conservative spokesman commented: “Gareth Davies has proudly served constituents in South-West Prestatyn since 2017 when he pledged to make the area a better and safer place to live, work and play.
“His record of delivery locally was recognised by people across the Vale of Clwyd constituency last May when they voted for him to be their next member of the Senedd.
“Like other recently elected members who were also county councillors, he’s committed to see out his term which finishes next May, rather than inflict a costly by-election worth thousands of pounds on the taxpayer. Gareth is also donating his councillor salary to charitable causes.
“As a new member, he was not fully aware of the rules regarding the Senedd and attending virtual council meetings and has since made a full apology to the Presiding Officer and the Standards Commissioner, making clear this will not happen again.
“Gareth has been thoroughly honoured to have represented his local community over the past five years and will continue to assist them and work hard on their behalf – including opposing the proposed housing development on the land adjacent to Alexandra Drive – until he steps down in May.”
Cllr Paul Penlington made the complaint to the Senedd and said: “Prestatyn county councillor and member of the Senedd Gareth Davies has only attended 50% of meetings at Denbighshire County Council, most often from his office in Cardiff during time he should be working at the Senedd.
“His two-timing lack of local representation is costing taxpayers over £81,000 a year, plus expenses.”
Cllr Penlington added: “I have now made a complaint to the presiding officer of the Welsh Government objecting to his using his Senedd office to pop into a Denbighshire meeting for a brief appearance once every few months instead of doing the job he is very well paid to do.
“Apart from misusing his time and resources in the Senedd, he is making a mockery of the people who expect him to represent them. If he wants the pay, he should work at the job. It is usually the honourable thing for a councillor to step down if he takes higher office. That does not seem to be the case with two-jobs Cllr Gareth Davies MS.”
The Senedd declined to comment.