HOLYHEAD TOWN COUNCIL
SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING FRIDAY 6 MAY 2016 6.00 p.m.
Councillors present: J V Owen (Mayor Chairing), Mrs Ann Kennedy BA(Hons) MBA, R E Williams,
Mrs R N Keegans, E G Jones, Mrs B Warner BEM, W J Chorlton, J M Evans, T Lloyd Hughes, K Tatlock,
John Knox-Crawford, Keith R Roberts, Mrs Ailia Lewis MBE and Mrs Jean A Ll Williams
In attendance: C Ll Everett (Town Clerk)
Richard W Jones (Deputy Town Clerk)
Mrs P R Scott (Clerk/Typist)
Gareth Williams from the local Press.
The Mayor, from the chair welcomed all present to the meeting. He stated that due to building regulations and fire regulations that the number of persons allowed in the Council Chamber was restricted and that he had arranged for the special Meeting to be held. He reminded all those in the Chamber that he would be conducting the meeting in an orderly manner with Councillors speaking to the Chairman and that if anyone caused a disturbance the Police would be called and that person would be asked to leave the Council Chamber. Several members of the public were outside the Town Hall building when the meeting commenced and the Town Clerk had to leave the Chamber to speak to the Police officer on duty and the meeting had to be paused. It appeared that the public were under the impression that the Special meeting convened was a public meeting which was not so.
The question was asked if anyone was tape recording the meeting and the answer was “No”.
1. Apologies for absence were received by Councillor Stan Hadley.
2. DECLARATION OF INTEREST BY ANY MEMBER OF OFFICER:
No declarations were made.
3. Town Clerk to report on the Petition delivered:
The Mayor explained that Town Councillors are elected democratically into office every four years. The Town Clerk stated that the Petition that was delivered by Councillor Redmond – on behalf of others - to the reception office was for the dissolution of the Holyhead (Community) Council. The Mayor stated that “why a certain Council member has been against the Town Council he didn’t know as all the questions asked by Councillor Redmond had been answered and the Local Government Ombudsman, the Wales Audit office and the Police had all been involved, but unfortunately when you get a complaint made against the Council we are not able to make that complaint public.”
The Mayor that morning had received a letter from the Local Government Ombudsman stating that the Holyhead Town Council had not been found guilty of any mal-administration or had done anything wrong.
Councillor K Tatlock then asked why he had not been given an answer to a question that he had raised regarding a financial payment to a firm of Solicitors and he was told by Councillor Keith Roberts that this had related to a staffing issue and could not be discussed in public open forum, such as a Council meeting. The Town Clerk re-iterated that if any Councillor wished to call into the office to see him that they were free to do so at any time if they needed clarification on any issue.
Councillor Mrs Ann Kennedy, Deputy Mayor wished to make a Statement which she read out at the meeting, as follows:-
“I am pleased to see members of the public here and also the Press. I am taking this opportunity to clarify some of the accusations made against the Town Council and against us as individual Councillors. You will know that we have been accused in the Press and on social media of being corrupt and that we have been reported to the Ombudsman.
HOLYHEAD TOWN COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON FRIDAY 6 MAY 2016 6.00 p.m.
These are the words used in the complaint “Misappropriation of public funds, acts of deceit for the purpose of obtaining public funds by grants or otherwise, in breach of the Code of Conduct, involved in mal-administration, involved in false accounting and allowing false accounting through entries in the purchase and sales ledger and other financial transactions”.
All extremely serious accusations, and even this week there have been similar allegations in the Press even though I can now state categorically that all of these accusations have been thrown out by the Ombudsman and by the Wales Audit office. The Wales Audit officer has been in touch with the Police and told them of his findings. The Ombudsman’s response has been to state to us all as individual Councillors, stating “Members accused of being complicit in maladministration and financial impropriety is not in my view sufficiently specific or evidenced to be able to determine whether a breach of conduct has occurred”.
The letter to us as Councillors states “The Ombudsman has decided not to investigate this complaint.
I enclose for your information a copy of my letter of today’s date explaining the decision”.
There is a copy of my letter from the Ombudsman available for anyone to see, we have all received a similar letter. As far as we are concerned that matter is done and dusted.
Moving on to the matter of the disabling or dissolution of Holyhead Town Council, I would ask the people of Holyhead why they would want to deny the largest town on the island a local voice? Why would the people of Holyhead prefer to be run by the Isle of Anglesey County Council? Why would the people of Holyhead want to hand over all their assets to Llangefni? This building (Town Hall), playgrounds, the Cemetery, the Alms houses, the allotments, the Cinema, the Park, the toilets, why would Llangefni manage our town better than ourselves? Without a local voice we cannot be heard, in case anyone is of the opinion that this is not the case I contacted the Legal Department of Ynys Môn today and confirmed the wording of the Newspaper report. The Town Council is the legal entity – it is this that could be dissolved.
So for a moment, let us put into perspective what the dissolution of the Council means, it is not about us as individual Councillors, unpaid, harassed, lied about etc, it is about the town having a voice. In twelve months we will be having local Elections, an opportunity for anyone to stand for election to the Town Council. However, if the Town Council is dissolved that opportunity is taken away from us.
Dissolving the Council is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, ok, so we all go but so does the Town Council, repeating myself, all the town’s assets. Is Llangefni going to fight for the Cinema, the Park the CCTV? They (ACC) are in the process of getting rid of their assets, offloading them onto anyone who will have them.
Then there is the issue of merging of Counties. If and when that happens and we have no Town Council, decisions about our town will be made in Caernarfon.
I am not here to make a plea for us as individual Councillors, you can get rid of all of us next year by standing for election. I am here to support the continuance of the structure of the Town Council. We deserve to have a Council that can speak for our Town, not run by Llangefni or God forbid Caernarfon. In twelve months time there will be an opportunity to elect new Councillors. In the meantime, we still have a job to do to support local people, support our staff, support local organisations, look after the allotments, look for funds to maintain and retain the Park, develop the Cinema, look after the playgrounds and Cemetery, care for our residents in the Alms houses, all our energies go into doing the best for the town. Out staff is committed to this, we are committed to this. If you don’t agree with what we are doing or you have ideas and suggestions, talk to us face to face, write to us, stand in the next local elections, attend our monthly meetings, read our Minutes. Our contact details are on our website, or call into the office.
HOLYHEAD TOWN COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING FRIDAY 6 MAY 2016 6.00 p.m.
I am aware that there are Holyhead residents who are actively supporting retaining the Town Council and they will have a voice as well. We are all here for the same thing, HOLYHEAD AND THE PEOPLE OF HOLYHEAD and I am sure that there are more things bringing us together than there are keeping us apart. There will be some who will say that I am only saying this because I will be Mayor from next Monday. Well, I am very proud to be Mayor of Holyhead, the place where I was born and even if it is only for a short time, I will do my best for the town”.
Several other Councillors also re-iterated Councillor Kennedy’s views and commended all of the staff who worked hard for the benefit of the community and were upset regarding the fact that the general public were being mis-informed with inaccurate information in the local Press and on social media and did not want to see the existing services provided by Holyhead Town Council being run from outside of the town.
The Town Clerk stated that he would need to clarify legally on the validity of the Petition and he added that this was causing a lot of stress to all of the staff and their families and added that the cost of using the play centre and Cinema had remained at an affordable cost, for the benefit of the community so that persons did not have to travel all the way to Llandudno to watch the latest film releases.
It was resolved that the Town Council check on the validity of the Petition by a suitably qualified professional person.
Minute no. 4058/16
Councillor K Tatlock and Councillor John Knox-Crawford abstained from voting.
It was also resolved that the Town Council seek permission from the Local Government Ombudsman to release all the documentation into the public domain as there was a lot of incorrect information, especially on social media and that the general public of Holyhead needed to be given the full facts and correct information.
Minute no. 4059/16
The meeting concluded at 7.15 p.m.