Welsh Conservative Regional AM Suzy Davies said she feared that a refusal to allow her to hand over a 1300-signature petition about the town centre to a cabinet member may have been more than just council protocol.
Coun Ken Watts, who is a Conservative member of BCBC, initially asked if the petition, which calls for traffic and parking to be allowed in part of the town centre, could be handed over to a member of the BCBC cabinet.
He was told by Mark Shephard, who is the director for Communities, that the council’s procedures were that petitions are handed in at the front desk “ordinarily. ”
But, as part of an e-mail thread, Coun Watts also received sight of an e-mail sent from council leader Mel Nott to Mark Shephard. This said: “As you are aware, it is not customary for cabinet members to receive petitions, particularly this one, especially as we have attempted to highlight the issues and the procedures we are going through.”
To this, Mark Shephard replied: “Absolutely. That is why I told him it was to be handed in at the front desk.”
Suzy Davies said: “I am concerned that the Labour leader of the council said “particularly this one” in relation to this petition. What does he mean by that? This petition was signed by 1300 shoppers and traders and demonstrates the level of concern that exists in the town about this issue.
“I am not quite sure why my particular petition is a problem. I hope he is not implying that an elected regional AM has no business organising a petition and representing the concerns of her constituents.
“The council has brushed aside traders’ concerns for years, refusing to listen or take any action. In the meantime, trade in the town has suffered. The time has come for action but it is very disappointing that the council leader seems more concerned with trying to stifle the justifiable efforts of myself, Welsh Conservatives and –most importantly - traders to bring about a change of heart than on dealing with the problem.
“His use of the words “particularly this one” is very revealing of the mindset of the Labour Party locally – it’s a we-know-best attitude that has brooked no argument.”
Mrs Davies added that when she attempted to hand the petition in at the front counter, staff told her they did not accept petitions over the counter.
She said: “If this was the usual protocol, then the cabinet had failed to communicate this with their own staff. However, they were most helpful and arranged for a senior officer to receive it instead.”