The Labour hierarchy of the Vale of Glamorgan Council has received an unprecedented rebuff from fellow Labour Party members in a meeting of the council held at its Barry HQ last night.
The Vale Council’s six-member ruling ‘cabinet’ had decided to support the Welsh Local Government’s Association and issue what it called a “recommendation” advising ordinary councillors (and presumably ordinary voters too) that they should vote for the UK to remain within in the EU.
When the agenda for last night’s the meeting had been issued, Sully independent councillor Kevin Mahoney had emailed all councillors pointing out that this issue was none of the council’s business and said “It is not the remit of the Vale of Glamorgan County Council to be issuing statements in support or not in support of a National Referendum on EU membership.”.
Despite Cllr Mahoney’s intervention the Vale cabinet pressed ahead with a vote at the full council meeting – only to find that most councillors – including Labour members – didn’t think much of the idea.
The so-called “cabinet” was comprehensively routed by 20 votes (against) to only 7 (for) and with no fewer that 15 councillors abstaining – easily the most catastrophic reverse the top tier of the council has ever suffered.
Amongst those on the losing side were Labour leader Cllr Neil Moore (Cadoc Ward), and two prominent Penarth members Cllr Lis Burnett and Cllr Gwyn Roberts (both Labour St Augustines) who all found themselves at odds with prevailing opinion.
Even the council’s Deputy Leader Cllr Stuart Egan decided to abstain. He said no one should know how he intends to vote in the forthcoming referendum.
Other councillors were totally against the idea that the council should adopt any particular view on the EU issue . Cllr John Thomas said the matter for was individual members – and not for the Vale Council . Cllr Richard Bertin said it was “not appropriate” for the council to take a view on matter.
Cllr Bob Penrose called for members’ votes to be “recorded” – which means that the way each councillor votes would actually be written down and be available for public inspection – something that usually doesn’t happen in the Vale Council.
Cllr Jeff James (Conservative Rhoose) says that if the Vale Council took what he called “a political view” that might influence ordinary voters – and that was not the council’s job.
The result of the vote was an overwhelming defeat for Cllr Neil Moore -the Leader of the Council- and for the six acolytes who supported him – who included Cllr Chris Elmore (the cabinet member for schools who is standing as the Labour parliamentary candidate in the Ogmore by-election on May 5th 2016) and Cllr John Drysdale (Labour Illtyd Ward) .