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Llanelli councillors under investigation for discriminatory language

A TOWN councillor used discriminatory language against two other elected members outside a children’s park and swore at one of them, a standards committee has concluded.

It will now decide whether the actions of Llanelli town councillor Terry Davies amounted to a breach of the code of conduct.

The Public Ombudsman Service for Wales investigated the incident outside the park in Tyisha, Llanelli, on February 9, 2021, and concluded that Cllr Davies may have breached the code. It then referred the matter to Carmarthenshire Council’s standards committee.

The ombudsman’s report said Cllrs Andre McPherson and Suzy Curry had gone to the new park to discuss snagging issues with the contractor and the deputy town council clerk.

The contractor said he was approached by quite an agitated and blunt man who questioned the quality of the surfacing in the park. This person was Cllr Davies.

The report said Cllrs McPherson and Curry then appeared in separate cars and were surprised to see Cllr Davies, given what they said was his previous attitude towards the park. An interaction between the three councillors followed.

The ombudsman said it was not disputed that Cllr Davies had concerns about the development of the park, that he called both elected members “drop-in councillors” and “outsiders”, and that he said: “Wales are [sic] for Welsh people, and we have a Welsh community here.”

Neither was it disputed that Cllr Davies was angry and raised his voice, nor that he was responsible for a Facebook post that evening, which he later deleted.

The ombudsman considered a number of disputed facts, and decided on the balance of evidence that Cllr Davies had told Cllr McPherson to “eff off” or “f*ck off”.

The ombudsman also found that Cllr Davies did use discriminatory language, that it was more likely than not that he shouted, and that the interaction could have been heard by members of the public in the park.

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The ombudsman said that on the balance of probability Cllr Davies had not, as he had said, been met with a barrage of abuse from Cllr Curry. The ombudsman also said that Cllr Davies’s Facebook post referring to “two outsiders I had a strong chat with today”, and “next time you want to have a go at me”, did refer to Cllrs McPherson and Curry and not two “druggies” from England he said the comments were aimed at.

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.

After a lengthy hearing, the standards committee agreed with the ombudsman’s findings on discriminatory language and swearing, adding that it preferred the evidence of Cllrs McPherson and Curry – and another councillor, John Prosser, who was in Cllr Curry’s car nearby – over that of Cllr Davies.

The committee also agreed that the public could have heard the interaction, that voices had been raised and loud, but that on the balance of probability Cllr Davies had not shouted.

And the committee said that Cllr Davies’s Facebook post had referred to Cllrs McPherson and Curry.

After reading out the committee’s findings, the council’s legal officer, Robert Edgecombe, said the next stage of the process would be to determine whether Cllr Davies had breached the code of conduct, and the meeting was adjourned