Friday, 8 July 2011

FOI reveals Wrecsam Lib Dem Cllrs targeted St Davids Day parade Founder

An FOI released today has revealed a series of e mails and comments from Lib Dem councillors in Wrecsam which relate to the banning of the founder of Wrecsams St Davids Day parade Mr Adam Philips. Mr Philips was banned from speaking at the event he established back in 2009 on the basis of complaints submitted to the council by county councillors. Mr Philips has stated he does not recognise the ban as the parade is not a council event and has also called for an investigation into how the ban was implemented.

The FOI reveals that the complaints and the subsequent enforcing of the ‘ban’ were also endorsed by the Lib Dem council leader at the time, namely Cllr Aled Roberts. Mr Roberts, now an Assembly Member for the north Wales region is quoted in the FOI documents on the 10th March 2011 requesting the letter banning Mr Philips be translated (how thoughtful). He also relays a message to Mr Philip Walton Strategic Director to ensure the letter banning Mr Philips includes the added instruction "not to speak".

E mails were also listed in the FOI documentation from Lib Dem Councillors Phil Wynn, Joan Lowe and Gerry Craddock, two of which referred to alleged comments made by Mr Philips regarding the referendum on further law making powers for Wales. What a coincidence you may think that both Cllrs Wynn and Lowe were instrumental in instigating a 'No' campaign locally against that referendum during the same period. The FOI also reveals that the ban received written support from fellow 'No' campaigner and Conservative Cllr Paul Rogers in June of this year, in which he urges the council to “stand its ground on this matter”.

As some of you may remember, Plaid Cllrs challenged the ‘ban’ on Mr Philips at an Executive board meeting last month. We asked for details about the complaints and stressed the fact that Mr Philips disputed the content of the complaints made against him, but had not been given the chance to respond to them before the ban was issued.

Members were also told in that meeting that a complaint had been received by a member of the public and that a letter was subsequently issued by Strategic Director Philip Walton banning Mr Philips from his own event. The letter lists the complaints justifying the ban on Mr Philips as follows:

‘Encouraging them (the crowd) not to support any potential bid for city status’

‘several people were offended by your clenched fist salute’

‘You instructed the crowd how to vote at the National referendum’

Reading through the FOI material, it becomes clear that the ‘complaint’ to Chief Exective Isobel Garner from the member of the public was actually submitted to the council by Lib Dem councillor Phil Wynn. A second complaint about the referendum comments was submitted by Lib Dem Cllr Joan Lowe the following day. In reference to the complaint Cllr Wynn says "Please can you assure me that as an authority we will not be offering up our further support to the Yes campaigners between now and Thursday".

The original concerns were raised by a lady who attended the event. In an e mail passed to Cllrs Wynn and Craddock she expresses concern that Mr Philips called for a yes vote in the referendum (something he disputes) and bizarrely describes Mr Philips actions whilst singing the national anthem and shouting ‘Dewi Sant’ as: “what can only be described as a near nazi salute”.

Interestingly Cllr Wynn’s e mail goes on to state : “ This has also jogged my memory as to what stance the council took when responding to the WAG consultation document on further promotion of the Welsh language.” Not quite sure what he means by that but it would certainly be interesting to find out.

There is no reference at all to city status from either the member of the public or the Lib Dem Cllrs, we wonder how that one got in the banning letter? Additionally, rather than 'several' people complaining about Mr Philips clenched fist salute during the National anthem, it would seem there was only one reference to it.

The motivation of the councillors pushing this 'complaint' needs to be examined, as do the actions of council officers in acting on it. Other issues listed in the banning letter such as Mr Philips comments on city status also need further investigaion. It can only be assumed these were received verbally from councillors considering they are not referenced in any of the written material.

Another issue that needs investigation is the comment from Phil Walton to the Executive Board that Mr Philips did not respond to his letter banning him from the event. The FOI material contains a letter from Mr Philips dated 31st March to Mr Walton requesting a meeting to discuss the situation. There are also e mails from council staff that refer to this request and arrangements regarding a meeting between Mr Philips and junior officers to discuss the matter.

It would seem that as an ordinary member of the public, Mr Philips is not entitled to respond to alleged breaches of policy before being judged, he should simply be told 'not to speak' instead. Possibly if he had been an Assembly candidate the situation may have been different. It would also seem to be ok to allow Mr Philips to be victimised by a couple of local councillors without any investigation as regards the motivation, which was clearly political. I could go on to talk about freedom of speech, the fact that Mr Philips actually invited the council to be involved in the parade in the first place and many other issues, but the fact that this situation is disgraceful speaks for itself.

At the end of the day, all this has happened because of one complaint by a member of the public who has clearly got her facts wrong (nazi salute!?). This complaint has then been vociferously driven within the council by local councillors with a bee in their bonnet over the referendum. No doubt still sore over critical press coverage regarding their own behaviour during their bodged 'No' campaign.


Anonymous said...

Aled Roberts needs to be careful.

Plenty of stories about him that could come to head.

Might even mention a few here.


Anonymous said...

Can we assume that Wrexham Council would also remove the arm of the iconic Llywelyn ein Llyw Olaf statue in City Hall Cardiff? And will ban the hailing of buses and taxis in the centre of Wrexham? There must surely be recourse for Mr Adam Phillips through the bureaucratic system even if common sense has been suspended.

DermotK said...

What else can you expect from a party that can so easily ditch their standards and policies to climb into bed with the Conservatives? They sold their souls for the sake of the crumbs of power from the Tories. Sell outs. The question now is what are people going to do to show this little bunch of Mafioso that their underhanded dealings are not welcome in Wales or anywhere?

Adam Phillips said...

Thank you Plaid for all your support - the thing that saddens and angers me more than anything is that Aled shook my hand and smiled as we spoke on the veranda about how great an event it was and then i find this out! he has also been there at many an event where myself and others have voluntarily done things for the community and he has turned up for the "Accolade" as chief of the council. I sort of feel sorry for Phil Walton stuck in the middle and being USED by these shamefull councillors.
This is not the end!
Adam Phillips

Anonymous said...

The Lib Dems need to be concentrating on the mistakes of their party in joining the conservatives and reneging on most of their manifesto, rather than causing a storm in a teacup at the council with their own personal miguided vendettas. Their demise at the next general elections is gauranteed.

Anonymous said...

For the record I've copied below my email addressed to the then Chief Executive, regarding a complaint I'd received from a member of the general public.

I believe the complainant has offered to speak with Cllr Carrie Harper, the invite being made via the Council's Strategic Officer Phil Walton. Let's hope this takes place so both parties can gain a better understanding of one anothers point of view.

As for the banning of Adam Phillips from future St David's marches, this does seem totally over the top reaction by the council and something I will be taking up with Mr Walton on Monday. Apart from forwarding on the complainant's email I took no further part in the council's decision making process.

Whilst I was unable to attend the end ceremony at the Guildhall, due to work commitments, I did have the pleasure of watching the march parading along the High Street, which was well received by the on-looking crowd.

I hope Adam will understand that his comments about the Referendum, which he made from the Guildhall balcony, whilst personal were taken to be political and therefore inappropriate for what was a non political event. I'm sure comments would have been made by the Yes Referendum campaigners if I had of taken the microphone and addressed the crowd to vote No.

Hopefully that clarifies matters for you as I would not want anyone to perceive I am running an anti-Welsh agenda..

Cllr Phil Wynn

PS Could someone pass on Adam's contact details to me.


Dear Isobel

I thought it best to forward you the attached complaint which I have this evening received off a xxxx xxxxxxx, as to the political high-jacking of what was meant to be a day for all of the people of Wrexham to take pride in.

As I was unable to attend the event could you let me please let me know what advice was given to those who were permitted to use the microphone from our balcony? Whilst the full council have supported the Yes campaign can you please assure me that as an authority we wil not be offering up our further support to the Yes campaigners between now and Thursday?

This has also jogged my memory as to what stance the council took when responding to the WAG Consultation Document on the further promotion of the Welsh Language. Assuming we did respond could you please let me have sight of it by return?

EG said...

Sly Lib Dems, is this the only way they can make headlines by back stabbing decent people.

Plaid Queensway said...

I wouldn't feel to sympathetic just yet, you haven't seen the rest of the FOI! To post on all of it would have taken all day but there is more.......

Gwilym said...

It's really time for Aled Roberts to resign from the Senedd. Did he really access that Welsh-language page of guidance? I don't think so!

Anonymous said...

Phil Wynn must be after the award Prat Councillor of the year, as well as the most devious underhanded councillor, so much so that even the Lib Dems in Wrexham were happy to see him leaving the group.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Fascinating insight into how our coalition partners on Wrecsam Council operate! Frankly I'm not surprised by the actions of the individuals concerned.

Jac o' the North said...

As I said in response to an earlier blog, next year's march must be bigger than ever.

Plaid Queensway said...

Phil, no one has contacted me regarding a meeting over this.I have not heard from Phil Walton or the 'complainant'.

As for what Adam said or didn't say on the day,he should have been given the opportunity to put his side across and certainly should have been told that someone had accused him of performing a 'near nazi salute'. Something I'm told has been spread around the council which is completely out of order. It's his march,he's not a council employee so he is entitled to say what he wants as long as he's not inciting hatred or anything along those lines (which he clearly wasn't).

The way this whole thing has been handled is appalling.

Out of interest, what did you mean regarding the councils response to further promotion of the Welsh language?

gone to SPain said...

Once again Phil Wynn manages to stick his nose in where it's not wanted. he watched the march outside the Wynnstay alongside his new best friend at the time Stephanie booth. Whatever happened to her?

Anonymous said...

Everything Phil Wynn touches turns to shit!

Anonymous said...

As someone who did attend the said event I can confirm that the speaker did say "And let's have a yes vote on Thursday" and stand with his arm raised throughout the singing of the national anthem. It was completely unacceptable considering the context of the event. The majority of those attending were school children who should not be taught that the way to sing the national anthem is reminiscent of the fanatics of the 1940's. If the plaid councillors can't understand that what he did was wrong it proves that they are unfit for the positions they hold.
I applaud the person who complained and only wish I had too.

Plaid Whitegate said...

Another anonymous whinger with an axe to grind. What exactly was unacceptable? A yes vote... a raised fist... someone who actually launched the event you participated in... next time perhaps you'll have the courage to reveal your identity.

Plaid Queensway said...

As above, if you applaud the complaint so much please feel free to put your name to your comments. At least on this blog you've had the chance to respond even if you have chosen to do so anonymously. Mr Philips was awarded no such courtesy by the council.

All views expressed on this issue by Plaid councillors have been made in full public view. It speaks volumes that it has taken the use of the freedom of information act to finally get the details as regards the actions of officers and other councillors on this matter.

george said...

What do wrecsam plaid councillors think of the abergele martyrs parades, and have they ever attended?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

What do wrecsam plaid councillors think of the abergele martyrs parades, and have they ever attended?

And the relevance to this post is?