Well-known Vale of Glamorgan planning chairman Cllr Fred Johnson (Labour Cadoc Ward) has confirmed that he has been “de-selected” by the Labour Party and will therefore not be allowed to defend his long-held seat in the Cadoc Ward of Barry as a Labour candidate.
As chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Planning Committee, Cllr Johnson holds one of the most important and influential positions on the Labour-run council. He has been a councillor for 25 years and was also Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan in 2015/16.
Asked what factors might have played a part in his de-selection Cllr Johnson said “I haven’t got any idea. I haven’t bothered to find out . That’s democracy. If people don’t want you to stand – you don’t stand and that’s it.”
Cllr Cllr Johnson said Labour party officials had never given him a reason and he had not even been informed how many people had voted for him or against him in the selection/deselection process . He said “I’m sure people have reasons why they voted – but that’s democracy you either accept it or fight against it”.
Cllr Johnson has been no stranger to controversy during his long council career which first began when he was elected to the old South Glamorgan County Council in 1993.
In October 2015 – when he was Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan he apologised after posting a photo on Facebook of refugees running into the back of a lorry with the caption: ‘Quick, they’ve dropped us in Barry.’
He had also included an image a plane carrying refugees into the UK, with one of them hanging by his neck from a noose, and to a photo of a naked woman riding a horse appended the caption “Lovely horse”.
The po-faced, politically correct, Labour group on the Vale Council didn’t share Cllr Johnson’s sense of humour and he was made to issue an apology and “review”his Facebook page.
Cllr Johnson is also a director of Barry Plastics Sports and Leisure Company Ltd – the private company which owns the “BP” Sully Sports and Leisure Club and its extensive grounds. The firm was involved in controversial hybrid planning application made by developers St Modwen PLC in respect of 37 acres of land at the Sully Sports and Leisure Club which would have involved building 200 new homes, new sports pitches, a bowls club, a new clubhouse and various other facilities.
A police investigation was launched into fake “letters of support” for the scheme purporting to be from local residents – which actually turned out to have been forged .
When the planning application was considered by the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning committee, Cllr Johnson – as its chairman and as a director of Barry Plastics Sports and Leisure (which owns the club) – declared a conflict of interest and left the council chamber. The unpopular scheme – which local residents in Sully opposed – was rejected.
Cllr Johnson has received offers to stand for election to the Vale of Glamrogan Council in other wards. He has until the end of March to make his mind up and is still considering them.
He said “At this moment in time if I was going to be absolutely honest with everybody I don’t think I’m going to stand anywhere – but I have been offered other things and I haven’t said “No” to anybody.”