Pennard Community Council chairman resigns following "bullying" and "frightening" letter
THE chairman of a Gower community council has resigned following a "bullying" and "frightening" letter questioning the "processes and procedures" of the representative body.
Pennard Community Council's January meeting began last week with its vice-chairman, Laurie Irwin, reading out a short letter of resignation from absent chairman, Councillor Mark Smith.
In the letter Mr Smith said: "I may in the future write a full letter explaining my frustration but for now this (his resignation) is with immediate effect."
Mr Smith later told the Evening Post: "The issue had gone on for some time and the letter was the last straw."
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Mr Irwin said in the meeting: "It's a great shame that we are losing someone who was so hard working and put in so much effort for the community." Of the letter, signed by councillors Margaret Smith, Adele Gerke, Arthur Rogers, Christine Lanfear and Ian Ambrose, he said: "I don't understand why all the problems in the letter couldn't have been brought to the council meeting."
He added: "The letter is a bit of a bullying letter. It's a frightening letter."
The five councillors said they had no choice but to express their concerns, which were confusion over which code of conduct they were to follow; when members had to make declarations of interest; the publicising of council business; and a matter relating to a change in pay and hours of their clerk — by letter.
Councillor Ian Ambrose told the meeting that Mr Smith had turned down an offer to meet. He said: "The only option was to address the concerns in a letter." It is understood that the five were also concerned by the pace of meetings.
Mr Ambrose added: "I agree that we are not experts, we are volunteers, but the people of Pennard expect us to provide a good service. I don't want us to make mistakes and I don't think meetings should be speeded up."
Councillor Arthur Rogers said: "My main concern is that there needs to be a formalisation of certain rules so that we know where we stand."
Not all councillors agreed with the contents of the letter, however, with Wes Weeks, who told the five councillors he would be making a complaint to the local government ombudsman on grounds of harassment, saying: "You succeeded in bringing down a good councillor."
The council will invite town and community councils umbrella body, One Voice Wales, to its next meeting to help it move forward.