Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 16:58 UK

Six 'bully' row councillors quit

Aberdulais
Aberdulais is one of the six villages covered by the community council

A third of the members of a council have resigned, protesting that they can no longer work with their colleagues.

Six of the nine Plaid Cymru councillors of Blaenhonddan Community Council, near Neath, walked out of a meeting.

Two claimed they had been subjected to insults and bullying by fellow members, with one of them calling it horrendous.

Council chairman Richard Matthews said members were there to work for the benefit of the community, but he would not discuss their allegations.

Before Monday night's meeting the council was made up of nine Plaid members, eight Labour and one Liberal Democrat.

One, Linda Ware, claimed that she and the others who walked out had been "verbally insulted" and "bullied."

I went there to help the village but I will never go into politics again
Linda Ware, former community councillor

"We decided we could no longer put up with it. It's literally like being in a bear pit."

She said they had raised concerns about the money the council spent running its community halls, the state of its play areas and had tried to "bring the council into the 21st Century."

"The way it has been run is appalling, totally undemocratic," she said. "We have come up against the Labour machine.

"I'm not a party animal. I went there to help the village but I will never go into politics again."

The council covers covers six villages - Aberdulais, Cilfrew, Cadoxton, Caewern, Waunceirch and Bryncoch.

Martyn Peters, another of those to resign, is also a Neath Port Talbot county councillor, and said he had been involved in local politics for 30 years.

'Disrepute'

"I have never seen anything like it before - it has been horrendous," he added.

Last month the council issued a statement saying members had voted to stop issuing individual statements both in the press and online in relation to council business.

It said the move was due to a small number of councillors "who were regularly issuing statements that brought the council into disrepute."

I can confirm six members of the council walked out of the meeting at the same time... they left envelopes addressed to the clerk behind
Richard Matthews, council chairman

It added: "The majority of members of council are working hard on behalf of the community and behave courteously and respectfully through meetings.

"This is marred by just a few members who appear to have their own agenda and who are refusing to behave in a manner befitting the role they have undertaken and to which they have signed up to under the code of conduct."

Mr Matthews, who was elected to the chairman's post at Monday's meeting, said: "I can confirm six members of the council walked out of the meeting at the same time. They left envelopes addressed to the clerk behind."

He said the contents of the letter had yet to be discussed but if they had resigned the returning officer for Neath Port Talbot would be informed and the vacancies advertised.

He added: "As chairman I am an independent person looking for us to all work together for the benefit of the community."

He said he would "not enter" discussions on the claims about behaviour.

According to its website, the council runs six community centres, six playgrounds and more than 45 countryside footpaths.

The community councillors, who do not receive pay or expenses, were elected in May 2008 for four years, represent 11,000 people and have a budget of about £170,000.



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