‘Intimidation’ claims resolved
NO further action will be taken against Rhondda Cynon Taf councillor Richard Yeo despite claims he intimidated fellow councillors and brought their reputations into disrepute.
NO further action will be taken against a Rhondda Cynon Taf councillor despite claims he intimidated fellow councillors and brought their reputations into disrepute.
The council’s standards committee found that Councillor Richard Yeo, the Labour member for Beddau ward, did have a case to answer but decided no further action was needed at its meeting on Monday, October 22.
A complaint was made by Councillor Pauline Jarman, Plaid Cymru member for Mountain Ash East, over Cllr Yeo’s comments at a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee meeting on April 30.
They related to a decision of the health and well being committee earlier that month to recommend cabinet defer a decision on creating a community hub in Mountain Ash.
Cllr Jarman said that Cllr Yeo had brought the reputations of some councillors who voted for the motion into disrepute by saying “angrily” that they had “hijacked” the process with their politicking and that they will “not get away with a decision like that in his committee again”.
Cllr Jarman said this was a bona fide decision of the committee and that the letter from Cllr Yeo sent to the councillors did not constitute an apology.
She said: “They are there to scrutinise decisions. It is part of the checks and balances to hold cabinet to account. He does not like the decision but that does not entitle him to disrespect their judgement.”
But Cllr Yeo said his comments were not aimed at anybody in particular and that he was more critical of himself and the process and denied using the word “hijacked”.
He said that he was unaware anything was coming before cabinet when he suggested the health and well-being committee discussed the issue of community hubs and he said this was down to him being an inexperienced chairman and the process.
He said the motion to ask cabinet to defer the decision “killed the debate” at the health and well-being committee on April 16.
“Individuals deserve respect for their opinions. I certainly wasn’t angry.
“I am disappointed with the process and myself for not picking up what was going on the cabinet agenda. At no point did I challenge the right to do what they did. I see scrutiny as a part of the democratic process.
“At no stage have we had any politics. Everyone works as a team. My comments were simply self critical and critical of the process.”
He put the problems down to a “lack of flow” between cabinet and committees at the time but said this has improved.
“I said it won’t happen again because I would make sure I was better and I wouldn’t miss it. I definitely wasn’t angry. That’s not my style. Overview and Scrutiny is a lot more political in nature. It can be quite politically charged.”
He added that he probably wouldn’t say it again because it wasn’t necessary for him to speak at the meeting.
Councillor Julie Williams, Plaid Cymru member for Porth, said she suggested they ask cabinet to defer the decision because they wanted to do more scrutiny on it. She said there was an “outburst” from Cllr Yeo and that it was not just what he said but the manner in which he said it adding “it was quite threatening and unprofessional. I was taken aback. I felt quite intimidated”.
Plaid Cymru councillors Lorraine Jones and Elyn Stephens also gave evidence in support of Cllr Jarman’s complaint as did indepdendent councillor Lyndon Walker.
Cllr Jones said that Cllr Yeo’s comments were inappropriate and unprofessional and felt they should have a complete and full apology. Cllr Stephens said that it was pretty clear who Cllr Yeo was referring to and that it was at best intimidating and and at worst threatening.
Cllr Walker said Cllr Yeo came across as slightly intimidating and his de- meanour could have been softer but he thought it was out of character for him.
But committee heard from Labour councillor Graham Thomas and were read a letter from fellow Labour councillor Maureen Webber in support of Cllr Yeo.
Cllr Thomas said Cllr Yeo was forceful but that that in most committees you get forceful speaking and as chair of the overview and scrutiny committee he did not feel at any point that he should have intervened.
“Thre are different accounts of the words that were used and a variety of perceptions.
“The apology was quite right and should have been sufficient to deal with the matter. I think there is no case to answer.
Cllr Webber’s letter said she was surprised this matter had come before the standards committee and that Cllr Yeo’s comments were “in line with the subject matter of the debate.”
“It is in my view that the comments made fell well within the parametres of the healthy debate that members were engaged in.”
Labour councillor Richard Yeo