‘In­tim­i­da­tion’ claims re­solved

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE - AN­THONY LEWIS news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

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

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