A COUNCILLOR nominated to chair a Powys County Council scrutiny committee and then blocked by a vote, has received an unreserved apology as the election should never have taken place.
At the council’s annual meeting, on Thursday, May 17, Cllr Peter Roberts, who was the Liberal Democrat Group nomination to chair the Learning, Skills and Economy Scrutiny Committee announced that he has “high functioning autism and Asperger’s.”
He made the statement as there had been grumblings about his nomination in the background due to the number of meetings he had missed as he came to terms with the diagnosis.
At the meeting the appointment was blocked by 24 votes to 33 and eight abstentions causing a constitutional crisis.
After the meeting, councillors from the Independent/Conservative group justified their actions by pointing to Cllr Roberts’ attendance record as the reason they could not support the nomination.
Since that meeting the council has received independent advice that the vote did not conform with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 and should not have taken place.
The guidance, says that these appointments, are the “property” of the political group, and as this scrutiny committee chair is in the gift of the opposition, The Liberal Democrat/Green Group, their appointee should be accepted unconditionally.
The authority’s own constitution allowed the vote but will now be amended to clarify the situation.
Cllr Roberts who represents Llandrindod South is expected to be confirmed in his appointment at the next full council meeting on July 12.
PCC, Liberal Democrat/green group leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt, said: “At the time, what took place at the council agm did not accord with the letter or spirit of the law that governs the way these important positions are filled, in order to achieve the majority groups’ aims of blocking our appointment.
“Our choice as Chair of the Learning, Skills and Economy Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Peter Roberts, has shown himself to be forensic in his previous role as a committee chair.
“His appointment is and was a matter for our group to decide and I am delighted that he will now be able to to lead the scrutiny of PCC’s delivery of Learning, Skills and Economic Functions.”
A spokesman for Powys County Council, said: “The council has since received independent legal advice that the vote did not accord with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 and should not have taken place.
“The council has issued an unreserved apology to Councillor Roberts, which has been accepted, and will amend the council’s constitution to clarify the situation.
“Councillor Robert’s appointment will be confirmed at the next meeting of full council on Thursday, July 12.”