“AN enormous conflict of interest” regarding the business interest of a new cabinet member has been raised just days after the reshuffled cabinet held its first meeting.

Last week it was announced that Independent Welshpool Llanerchyddol Powys County Councillor, Graham Breeze, would be entering the cabinet as a portfolio holder for Corporate Governance and Engagement – which includes communications.

Cllr Breeze is a founding partner and director for MyTown media which includes MyWelshpool and MyNewtown.

Cllr Liam Fitzpatrick (Non-aligned – Tal-y-Bont on Usk) has written to Cllr Breeze as well as chief executive Dr Caroline Turner and Head of Legal Service, Clive Pinney, pointing out the issue.

Similar problems have been dealt with in the past.

The transport portfolio is held by deputy leader and finance portfolio holder Cllr Aled Davies (Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant – Llansilin).

This is due to the business interests of education portfolio holder Cllr Phyl Davies (Conservative – Blaen Hafren) and former economy and planning portfolio holder Cllr Martin Weale (Action for Powys – Llanbadarn Fawr) who are directors of bus companies.

Cllr Fitzpatrick said: “Sadly it has come to my attention that you have a major conflict of interest .

“You are the cabinet holder for engagement and communications but  you also own MyNewtown and MyWelshpool two media sites that have massive coverage.

“So there is an enormous conflict and I do not feel you can continue in your new role .

“It is regrettable but rules are rules you must go from this role.”

The Local Democracy Service contacted Cllr Breeze, who  said that “any response” would come through the Powys County Council communications team.

Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, (Independent – Llangynidr) has robustly defended the appointment and believes that there is no conflict.

Cllr Harris said: “The council’s approach to public relations and the media is governed by a formal ‘Media Protocol’ which is subject to the national code of recommended practice on local authority publicity, issued under the provision of the Local Government Act 1986 and updated in 2000.

“All press and media relations conducted on behalf of the council, including emergency media handling, media enquiries and issuing all news releases, are subject to the media protocol and code of conduct.

“Information is distributed to all relevant media without prejudice.

“Content will be approved by the relevant service senior officer and appropriate cabinet member.

“The communications team cannot provide general press support or produce publicity for individual councillors.”

“The very strict council and national regulations governing local government publicity ensure there is no conflict of interest with the appointment.”