Posted: Wed 28th Jun 2023

Councillor criticises ‘poor’ attendance at military ceremony – despite not turning up himself

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2023

A councillor who criticised attendance at ceremony to honour the armed forces said he stands by his comments – even though he didn’t attend the flag raising. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Conservative Alistair Neill, who chairs Monmouthshire County Council’s performance scrutiny committee, claimed this week the “really poor” attendance at a ceremony to raise the Armed Forces Flat at County Hall had given a bad impression of the authority to the military. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Gobion Fawr councillor said: “It was only earlier this week there was a really poor attendance at the armed forces flag raising ceremony – that doesn’t, I think, put the council in a good view, or line of sight, of colleagues in the armed services.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

But Cllr Neill confirmed to the Local Democracy Service that despite his comments he hadn’t attended the ceremony, and said he wasn’t criticising any individual councillors or political groups. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The councillor said he hadn’t been able to attend as he had another meeting related to his employment. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

But he said he still found the turnout for the event held at County Hall in Usk during the working day on Monday, June 19, disappointing. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said: “I was simply making the point that my understanding there was a low attendance, I didn’t say from any particular group. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It was a low attendance and we need to do more to make sure really important events like that have a better attendance and that might be the timing, and it not clashing with other events, as I think quite a number of colleagues had other commitments.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Councillor Peter Strong, who represents Rogiet and who led the ceremony, said he was more concerned about the council’s actions than attendance at a ceremonial event, with the flag raised ahead of Armed Forces Day this Saturday. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Labour councillor who is the armed forces champion with responsibility for raising issues related to service personnel, their families and veterans across the council, said: “What I think is important is that Monmouthshire County Council’s attitude to the armed forces is much better. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We are the Welsh Veterans’ employer of the year and at the ceremony a member of the British Legion told me how Monmouthshire County Council had treated one of its members in a very difficult situation, those are the things that really matter.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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



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