Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 15:00 UK

Councillors 'past it' row inquiry

Rene Kinzett
Rene Kinzett says the criticism of him by other councillors is 'misjudged'

The public services ombudsman for Wales is investigating a Swansea councillor who claimed that some members of the council aged over 60 were "past it".

Conservative group leader Rene Kinzett was reported by councillors Mary Jones and Wendy Fitzgerald for allegedly breaching the council's conduct code.

Mr Kinzett said he made his comment to a newspaper when arguing the councillors were unrepresentative.

Mr Kinzett, who represents Mayals ward, said: "I'm happy to defend my views."

He maintained that his remark sprang out of a political debate between himself and Ms Jones, a Liberal Democrat, and Ms Fitzgerald, an independent.

He described their decision to report him to the ombudsman as "farcical".

By any stretch of the definition, Swansea council is absurdly unrepresentative of the city and county of Swansea
Rene Kinzett

Mr Kinzett said: "It all stems from the councillors who run Swansea council who said that because I work outside Swansea and because I miss meetings every now and then I am useless.

"My counter-attack was that the council was being run poorly because it was unrepresentative of the city it represents."

In a recent blog entry, Mr Kinzett, who is also a parliamentary candidate for Swansea West, explained his view.

He wrote: "By any stretch of the definition, Swansea council is absurdly unrepresentative of the city and county of Swansea in terms of age profile, gender.

"Out of the 72 councillors, only eight are aged under 40.

It's now up to the ombudsman to pass comment on whether he thinks the attack by Rene on people because of their age is justifiable
Chris Holley, Swansea council leader

"In terms of Swansea's population, those aged 18-59 represent just over 55% of the general public, whereas the number of councillors under 60 equates to just under 39% of the total council.

"The number of councillors aged over 60 is a whopping 61.1% or 44 members out of 72! The figures for the general public show that only 21.36% of the population are aged between 60 and 84 (we do, I believe, have a 79-year old councillor)."

In the blog Mr Kinzett added: "Well, judging from the public reaction... the two councillors who reported me seem to have rather misjudged the mood of the public on this one."

'Party political'

With regard to the ombudsman's decision to investigate the affair, he commented: "I am happy to defend my views in any democratic forum, the court of public opinion or in the worst case scenario, Her Majesty's courts if a defamation action were ever brought against me.

"However, what I cannot fathom in this instance is what on earth the ombudsman is doing in investigating a case which clearly falls in the 'party political' bracket."

A spokeswoman for the public services ombudsman for Wales confirmed: "We have received a complaint in respect of Mr Kinzett and we are investigating it."

Swansea council leader Chris Holley said: "It's now up to the ombudsman to pass comment on whether he thinks the attack by Rene on people because of their age is justifiable."



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