The Leader of the Conservative Group on the Vale of Glamorgan Council has now weighed into the row over the party’s controversial “de-selection” of popular Penarth veteran Councillor Clive Williams,
Cllr Williams (80) has represented the Plymouth Ward as a Conservative councillor on the Vale Council for 34 years, is a popular and well-respected figure and holds an MBE – awarded to him in recognition of his years of public service.
However on November 22nd he was unceremoniously dumped by a small group of Conservative Party members after first being required – in effect – to “re-apply” for his seat, and to then be formally interviewed to determine his suitability to be a candidate.
Only 7 members Penarth Conservative Party Association are said to have been present at the meeting including 4 members of the Turner family – Penarth Town Councillor Martin Turner, his wife Dorothy Turner and their daughter Mrs Kathryn McCaffer and son Ewan. It meant that the Turner family constituted the majority of the members present .
Cllr Williams says that of the members present, 4 had their own daughters standing against him wanting to be selected as candidates. There are said to be 69 members of the Penarth Conservative Association but Cllr Williams names only one member who was contacted by phone and asked to attend.
As the first item of business, the meeting eliminated Cllr Williams from further consideration and then allegedly proceeded to select 3 members of the Turner family as candidates for next May’s Vale of Glamorgan Council election.
Cllr Turner’s daughter Kathryn McCaffer – was allocated one of the two Plymouth Ward seats – the ward from which they had just eliminated Cllr Williams.
Kathryn McCaffer had stood unsuccessfully for election for the Stanwell Ward in the 2012 Penarth Town Council elections.
The other Plymouth Ward seat [available because incumbent Cllr Maureen Kelly-Owen is standing down next May] was allocated to Ben Gray.
Asked for a comment, the Conservative Party eventually – after several days of delay – issued the following statement :- “The selection was carried out in a fair and open manner in accordance with the rules.”
Many people however, including a number of PDN commentators, consider the selection to have been anything but “fair” and express surprise that the Conservative “rules” can permit members of the same family to vote for each other.
Now the leader of the Conservative Group on the Vale of Glamorgan council, Cllr John Thomas has taken up the cudgels on behalf of Cllr Williams and has written to party officials to query the procedure at the November 22nd selection meeting.
Cllr Thomas said this weekend “I’ve got concerns about the number of people who were there to vote.”
He said he wasn’t sure what the rules were, but 7 seemed, to him, to be “a low number“ to make such a decision .
Cllr Thomas said that he understood that the campaign manager Tom Giffard – who was said to be the “returning officer” in charge of the November 22nd meeting – had since claimed that the rules did allow for “family members to vote for each other”.
But Mr Thomas says “it seems a bit strange to me – if you’ve only got 7 people there – and 3 or 4 of them from the same family – it just doesn’t look very good does it? “
Cllr Thomas went on to say “Whether it’s actually breaking the rules or not, it just doesn’t look very good to me.”
Cllr Thomas says “My point all the way through is that Clive – [Cllr Clive Williams] has been a good constituency councillor for many years . He’s done nothing wrong . He’s popular in the ward – and I would have thought he should have been selected without having to go through a selection process. It’s his seat – unless he wanted to give it up. Unless he done something particularly wrong, the seat should be his. I know that’s not the way it goes, but morally speaking that’s the way it should be . If I had been there, and if I had been in a position to vote, I would have voted for Clive to keep his seat.”
Asked if he intended taking any further action Cllr Thomas said “There’s not a lot that I can do really because the Vale Council area covers the two different Conservative Associations. I’ve got nothing to do with the Penarth Association. I’ve made my feelings known to them “. He added “I would do anything I could to support Clive because I think he has been very badly treated. I know Clive is no spring-chicken – he’s popular in the wards, he increased his majority in the last election – which most of us didn’t manage to do in all honesty, myself included” .
Cllr Thomas said he thought Cllr Williams had been “very harshly treated”. He went on to say “I am very disappointed with the decision that’s been made and I would support Clive absolutely in wanting to stand and continue to represent the Ward residents which he’s done for so many years.”
As matters currently stand the Conservative Vale of Glamorgan Council candidates for Penarth wards in next May’s elections are 3 Turner family members :-
- Kathryn McCaffer (Plymouth Ward)
- Penarth Town Cllr Martin Turner (St Augustines)
- Dorothy Turner (Cornerswell)
And four other candidates :-
- Ben Gray (Plymouth Ward)
- Penarth Town Cllr Wendy van den Brom (St Augustines)
- Ken Lloyd (Cornerswell)
- Anthony Harris (Stanwell) * [ See Note below]
Tonight it’s understood that in the wake of the re-selection row Anthony Harris – who had been selected as the Conservative Vale candidate for Stanwell Ward – has told the selection meeting organiser, Mrs Dorothy Turner, that he is withdrawing his name and will not now be a candidate .