An Independent councillor who was ‘blocked’ from joining Caerphilly County Borough Council’s planning committee has now been accepted onto the committee.
Councillor Nigel Dix, who is one of three councillors representing the Blackwood ward, had offered to take up a vacant position on the committee as it does not include any members of the council’s Independent group.
But he was originally told he was unable to take up the position as he is not part of a political group.
Cllr Dix is an Independent councillor, but he is not part of the council’s Independent group.
Speaking in a council meeting in April, the council’s head of legal services, Rob Tranter, said this is because of political balance rules, which he said the council have a legal requirement to meet.
Welsh Government rules state that an independent member who is not a member of a political group does not automatically qualify for a committee seat.
Speaking to Caerphilly Observer, Cllr Dix said the council was following the 1989 Local Government Act, which doesn’t allow non-aligned councillors onto committees.
He said he contacted Mr Tranter about the situation and it was soon resolved.
“I asked the council to change the constitution”, Cllr Dix said.
“I pointed out that non-aligned councillors in Carmarthenshire sit on committees.”
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He added: “We should be treated with respect. All councillors are elected the same.
“All I was asking for was to be treated equally and fairly within the law and take up a role on the committee.
“I’m glad they accepted to appoint me on the committee and I look forward to working on the committee.”
In April, councillors backed plans to reduce the council’s planning committee from 20 councillors to 16 councillors.
Speaking at a planning meeting on May 19, committee chair Cllr Roy Saralis welcomed the new committee members and thanked previous members for their contribution.
He said: “This committee now has 16 members and should represent the political balance of the council with representatives from the Labour Group, Plaid Cymru group and the independent group.”
Additional reporting by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
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