Llanelli councillor moves to defend himself over 'Polish rant'
A LLANELLI councillor has declared himself "not against any particular ethnicity" following an anti-Polish rant.
Keri Thomas, who represents the Tyisha ward, spoke out at a meeting of the Safer Communities Action Group and blamed a rise in street drinking on Polish people.
Since the "unfortunate incident" was brought up at the Senedd by AM Simon Thomas, the councillor has defended his claims.
"I'm just saying what I have experienced here in the Tyisha area and it is unfortunate that they are Polish individuals," he said. "I'm not against any particular ethnicity.
"I have had complaints about Polish people from constituents. There is an element that seem to congregate and they cause a nuisance.
"People are concerned about it and they are being pestered for money.
"I have informed the police about it, particularly in St Paul's cemetery where people take a shortcut to town, they are begging, asking my constituents for money."
Raising the issue at the Senedd last Tuesday, Mr Thomas addressed Jane Hutt and said: "As the Leader of the House, could you ask yourself, as the minister with responsibility for equalities, for some kind of debate on the multiplicity and diversity of cultures that we have in Wales.
"I ask for that because of an unfortunate recent event in Llanelli, where Councillor Keri Thomas of Tyisha ward blamed the Polish people in Llanelli for the on-street drinking there.
"This has undermined the work of the Llanelli Multicultural Network, as well as people, for example, in the Polish-Welsh Mutual Association in Llanelli.
"Llanelli has a huge number of Polish people, who have gone there to work, and many of them are in work.
"It would be a good opportunity to nip this kind of blaming in the bud early on."
In response, Mrs Hutt described the matter as a "serious concern".
"We applaud our diversity," she said.
"I have made many visits to Llanelli, where I have met with vibrant multicultural and multi-ethnic communities, who are engaged in tackling all sorts of social issues, across the community.
"Lessons will have been learned as a result of this.
"I would expect that local authorities, which now have a duty to deliver specific equality duties, will embrace the opportunities to promote diversity and understanding, as well as community cohesion, which is what this is crucially about," she added.