Posted: 02.09.20 at 14:04 by Alex Jones
Ian Barlow, Sully and Lavernock Community Councillor (SLCC), has lost a vote of no confidence but refuses to resign.
The vote came during an online meeting last night (1 September) in which Council Chairman Christopher Morgan accused Cllr Barlow of missing meetings, stifling progress, and contributing to an atmosphere many villagers consider toxic.
Five councillors voted in favour of calling for Cllr Barlow to resign. One abstained.
“The minutes will show that there is no confidence in Ian Barlow, and we have called for his resignation,” concluded Chairman Morgan.
It was an uncomfortable evening of allegations, mocking gestures, technical issues, and rows.
The SLCC is no stranger to controversy, and that trend has peaked over the last few months of tears, resignations and legal investigations.
Relations deteriorated rapidly when in June Cllr Barlow reported Chair Cllr Morgan to the Monitoring Officer at the Vale of Glamorgan. Nub News cannot confirm an official response to the investigation, though Chair Cllr Morgan said it was taken up by the police. The chair had issued a Facebook post discouraging an election for financial reasons. Cllr Barlow accused the post of contravening electoral law.
In his scathing criticism of Cllr Barlow, Chair Cllr Morgan said: “So in my first month of being Chairman … I had to deal with fighting allegations of breaching electoral law which could easily have been solved by being taken aside by a mentor. This was not how it was handled.”
Chair Cllr Morgan also referenced an alleged altercation that took place in a field and led to the resignation of “first-class” councillor Kay Bowring. The alleged incident took place on 22 May and is reportedly under police investigation currently
The Chair also mentioned various instances in which Cllr Barlow would cite parts of the Statute in Legislation, saying:
“In my view efforts to block progress are noticeable … I can’t help but think this is a continued effort to regain and keep some form of control.”
Chair Cllr Morgan concluded his speech by making accusations of absenteeism, citing the discovery of Cllr Barlow in a pub after an Extraordinary General Meeting he had missed.
Cllr Barlow was also implicated in the mysterious disappearance of “a shoebox of cheques and paying-in stubs”.
“Either you knew they have gone in which case are culpable or you didn’t know they have gone in which case you are culpable,” said the Chair.
Cllr Barlow denied any involvement in the disappearance. He then left the meeting as soon as the vote of no confidence was tabled, saying:
“I am declaring an interest. I was elected by hundreds of people and have no intention of resigning. I will now leave the meeting and see you in October.”
In an exclusive interview with Nub News this morning (2 September), Cllr Barlow responded to the vote.
“I am saddened by this,” he said. “You don’t mind things said about you which are factually correct but when the facts are not necessarily put before the public I am saddened by that, especially considering all the good I have done over 35 years serving the community.”
Cllr Barlow took issue with every criticism made of him.
“What Cllr Morgan neglects to mention is the fact that he tried to oust me before I contacted the police with regard to the infringement.
“In terms of what went on on the playing field that day with Cllr Bowring, it would be wrong of me to comment on that as it is an ongoing investigation, but I will say this: I was there. He was not.”
But it was the accusations of non-attendance and stifling progress that the councillor disagreed with most vehemently.
“I had missed one single meeting in 35 years so I take great exception to anyone suggesting I put my council duties second to social events.”
The meeting yesterday took place amid reports of bullying and toxicity within the Council.
One villager, who requested anonymity, had this to say:
“As a resident I’ve watched the dark days unfold for many years and have seen good people resign from SLCC, staff and councillors. I’m glad the bullying and poor behaviour has been finally addressed and I admire the courage of the new Chairman. I think he will take us into a new era in which the community can work with the SLCC, free of the toxic past.”
Of implied accusations of bullying, Cllr Barlow said:
“I would suggest quite the reverse. Since I became a member of the council, my whole policy has been to work for the community rather than take part in petty vendettas. At this lowest level of politics, our roll has to be to serve the community. It might be argued that a few of my colleagues have something to learn from that policy.”
Cllr Barlow has no intentions of resigning.
“A vote of no confidence has no legal effect. The people who can unseat me are the electorate and they can at the next election. It would be wrong of me to throw in the towel particularly when it would betray the confidence in me displayed by the hundreds of villagers who voted for me in the last election, and particularly when those who made the vote of no confidence were not elected by the people themselves.”
The one abstaining councillor in the vote was Rod Thomas, who is reportedly a friend of Cllr Barlow. In an outburst immediately following the vote, he said:
“You forget Ian was elected unlike you and Phil. Nobody voted you two in. I regret the day I got Phil on. Carry on gentlemen!”
The next council meeting is due to take place on 6 October.
Nub News has attempted to contact Chair Cllr Morgan but to no avail at present.