Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

Llanelli town councillor suspended over use of discriminatory language /
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

A town councillor is serving a suspension after being found to have used discriminatory language against two other councillors and to have sworn at one of them. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Carmarthenshire Council’s standards committee said on the balance of probabilities Llanelli town councillor Terry Davies told Cllr Andre McPherson to “eff off” or “f*** off” outside a children’s play park, and that he used discriminatory language towards Cllr McPherson and Cllr Suzy Curry. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Public Services Ombudsman of Wales had previously said that it was not disputed that Cllr Davies called the two Labour members “drop-in councillors” and “outsiders”, and that he said: “Wales are [sic] for Welsh people, and we have a Welsh community here.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The committee said members of the public could have heard the interaction at the playground, and that Cllr Davies, of Plaid, was not subjected to a barrage of abuse from the two Labour councillors, as he had claimed. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The committee received only one example of language which could be considered as abuse. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A subsequent Facebook post by Cllr Davies referring to “two outsiders I had a strong chat with today”, said the committee, referred to Cllrs McPherson and Curry and not two “druggies” from England he said the comments were aimed at. The post was later deleted. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

During a final hearing on April 12, Cllr Davies’s legal representative David Daycock said his client was a passionate Welshman who felt you needed to be from Tyisha to fully understand its issues. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“He speaks from the heart and he speaks plainly,” said Mr Daycock. “He may have let his emotions get the better of him.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Daycock also said councillors should have “thicker skin and greater tolerance”, and that Cllr Davies’s comments should have been taken as “part of the rough and tumble of political debate and manoeuvring“. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The ombudsman, in its report, described how Cllrs McPherson and Curry had gone to the new park to discuss snagging issues with the contractor and the deputy town council clerk on February 9, 2021. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

They were surprised to see Cllr Davies there, given what they said was his previous attitude towards the park. An interaction between the three councillors followed. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The ombudsman concluded that the behaviour of Cllr Davies, who was then deputy mayor – and is now a county councillor following last May’s local government elections – was suggestive of four breaches of the code of conduct. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The committee said it preferred the evidence of Cllrs McPherson and Curry over the evidence of Cllr Davies regarding the use of discriminatory language. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It also preferred the evidence of Cllr McPherson and another councillor, John Prosser, who had accompanied Cllr Curry to the park, over that of Cllr Davies regarding the swearing allegation. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The committee decided that the use of “eff off” or “f*** off” and the use of discriminatory language amounted to a “prima facie” breach of a paragraph of the code of conduct relating to a duty to show respect and consideration to others. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The discriminatory language, it said, was also a prima facie breach of a section saying councillors must carry out their duties with due regard to equality of opportunity for all people, regardless of their gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, age or religion. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

And the committee decided that Cllr Davies’s language had come to the attention of members of the public, and that such language would have brought both Cllr Davies’ office and the town council into disrepute. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

After considering mitigating and aggravating factors, the committee decided to suspend Cllr Davies from the town council for one month and recommend that he undertook further code of conduct training. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Davies said he felt the committee had done a fair job based on the evidence provided, but that he maintained he had not sworn or used discriminatory language and that he wouldn’t have gone to the expense of hiring barrister Mr Daycock otherwise. He added: “I have had huge support .” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr McPherson said he did not feel it was appropriate for him to make a comment. Llanelli Town Council said it did not wish to comment. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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