Posted: Thu 5th Jan 2023

Connah’s Quay Town Council leader tells veteran councillor to ‘grow up’ in furious spat

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jan 5th, 2023

Tensions ran high at the Connah’s Quay Town Council meeting on Wednesday evening, as two council stalwarts were reprimanded by the gavel-slamming Committee Chair.

Cllr Bill Crease (Ind), Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee was forced to intervene ahead of an update on an incident which is said to have taken place during the Remembrance Service held in the Civic Hall last November.

It’s been alleged that a senior official of the Connah’s Quay and Shotton Intersevices Committee told a soldier in uniform to f*** off and put his two fingers up behind the soldiers back because he had asked the official to be quiet during prayers.”

As a result of the incident, the town council withdrew its support for the Intersevices Committee, which arranges Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday activities and manages poppy boxes and collections across Deeside.

The committee typically includes members from all armed forces and representatives from both Connah’s Quay and Shotton Town Council.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Town Councillor Ian Dunbar (Lab), who is also the Treasurer of the Intersevices Committee, was invited to respond to the council about the incident.

While addressing members, he said, “I’d like to wish some councillors a Happy New Year.”

Cllr Bernie Attridge, leader of the independent group, which holds the majority of seats on the council, reacted angrily and called on Cllr Ian Dunbar to withdraw his “distasteful comment” after he only wished “some” council members a Happy New Year.

Cllr Attridge added that it was “about time Cllr Dunbar grew up.”

Cllr Dunbar retorted, “I am not accepting that from the mouthpiece over there,” looking in the direction of Cllr Attridge, adding that he had spoken to other councillors individually including one on Morrisons car park where he wished her a Happy New Year.

Cllr Dunbar then told Cllr Attridge to “keep his mouth shut,” which drew gasps from some of the members sitting in the chamber.

At this point, the Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, Councillor Bill Crease (Ind), had to intervene, slamming the small ceremonial mallet, or gavel, loudly on the table in a bid to restore order.

He strongly rebuked the councillors, saying, “I do not expect any councillor to be abusive to any other councillor.”

“Any councillor who is will be asked to leave the chamber.”

He added that he was “not prepared to have a committee meeting under my chairmanship dissolve into personal attacks.”

Cllr Dunbar was then asked to address the allegation made against the Intersevices Committee member.

Running through the events at the Remembrance Sunday service, Cllr Dunbar said the senior official did say ‘oh no’ loudly after being told of a problem with a public address sound system, at that point an officer from the army stood up and said, “can you be quiet.”

Cllr Dunbar said the Intersevices Committee member waved the soldier away and told him to sit down.

He said the Intersevices Committee had not received any complaints about the incident from the public or the soldier.

Cllr Dunbar said, “some individuals, we know who they are, frequently put comments on Facebook about the official, which he always ignores” but claimed a comment had been posted on the social media site stating “the soldier had been sworn at.”

He said that after seeing “the untruthful comment” the individual who posted it has been reported to the Interservices solicitors.

Cllr Dunbar added that for the council to continue to condemn the official and threaten to withdraw funding for the Intersevices Committee based on the accusation made by someone on Facebook, “who I’m told consistently complains about everyone and everything” was “unbelievable.”
Cllr Dunbar then left the chamber voluntarily as he was unable to take part in the debate which followed due to his role as Treasurer of the Intersevices Committee.

Councillors were then given a copy of a written complaint made by a member of the public about the incident which details the swearing at the soldier.

It states that the complainant’s young granddaughter heard the alleged incident and asked why “that man swore at the soldier.”

The complaint was sent via email on November 22 to Shotton Town Councillor Sean Bibby who at the time was Vice Chair Intersevices Committee.

Cllr Crease noted that the council had been left in a difficult position, as a complaint had been made by a member of the public, but the Intersevices Committee had denied the accusation.

Cllr Eric Faulkner (Lab) said that it was “an alleged incident that has happened … an alleged one!”

“I wasn’t there but going forward with a council now, if any of us make or hear a complaint of any member of the public in the future over anything, no matter what, are we going to bring it here and end up discussing it for hours?”

Cllr Attridge said, “we are only discussing this here because the Intersevices Committee refused to allow a Connah’s Quay Town Councillor access to one of their meetings where the issue was to be raised.”

“I’d rather do the dirty washing behind closed doors.” He said.

Cllr Martin White said it was “quite shameful the complaint hadn’t been dealt with earlier or even on the day  and “not turned into a Facebook war.”

Following some further debate the council agreed for the clerk to send a letter with the email complaint from the member of the public and a list of questions about the allegation to the President of the Intersevices Committee.

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