The Rhondda Leader today reports a spat between a newly elected Independent Councillor and a Labour Cabinet Member.
Heated words were exchanged at last week’s meeting of Rhondda Cynon Taf council when Independent councillor Phil Howe read out a letter he had written to Chris Bryant and Leighton Andrews, the MP and AM for Rhondda, about the employment practices of a local shopfitting firm.
In the letter, Mr Howe stated: “As the RCT councillor for Ferndale and Blaenllechau, it has been brought to my urgent attention that a company called Inca Creative Ltd is currently in the process of recruiting an additional 13 workers, all imported from Poland, completely bypassing the local labour market.
“I fully suspect that since both the UK and Poland are members of the European Union, no employment or immigration laws have been broken by the owners or management in this matter, but I question the morality of this move.”
I was in the public gallery at the meeting on 4th July and watched this little battle play itself out. I don’t doubt that Cllr Howe did not mean his comments to be racist, but the minute he made his comments the question was which Labour member would react first.
They are only too eager to pounce and take advantage of the inexperience of any new Councillors. They already succeeded in intimidating Cllr Howe to the extent that he pulled out of the Welsh Liberal Democrat alliance group and will see him as an easy target.
I have in the past questioned the effectiveness of Independent Councillors. The Council Chamber is not an easy place to be, you need broad shoulders and thick skin. You also need to be very careful of what you say. Political correctness is sometimes a card that is overplayed, but that is the way it is. People who are in the public eye need to be careful of what they say.This particular episode did no favours to either side and would be best left alone. He was naive, she was bullying. Both acting in a way that does not belong in the Chamber.