An MP is demanding an explanation from a Labour councillor who has accused him of being responsible for an increase in consultation costs and a firm pulling out of work on potential new gypsy traveller sites in Monmouthshire.
David Davies has asked Councillor Paul Griffiths, deputy leader of Labour-led Monmouthshire County Council, to “supply the evidence” that leaflets he distributed at the end of July were to blame for the cost of the consultation shooting up by £6,000.
The claim was made during a cabinet meeting last Wednesday (4 October) when approval was given to open a public consultation on two new sites at Bradbury Farm and Oak Grove Farm, both in Crick near Caldicot, and a previously identified site at Langley Close in Magor.
Cllr Griffiths said an independent firm the council had an “understanding” it would work with to run the public consultation was no longer willing to be involved because of “leaflets going around” and this had increased the cost from £4,000 earlier in the summer to £10,000.
Monmouth MP Mr Davies described the accusation as “ridiculous” and is calling on the council to release any documentation which “backs up this assertion”.
He said: “The council announced plans for potential new gypsy traveller sites at the start of the summer when people were likely to be going away on holiday.
“They said they would consult with residents, but the vast majority of people were completely unaware of what they were doing.
“I simply put out a leaflet to let people know what was happening in their local area.
“I have written to Cllr Griffiths, who is leading the search for potential new traveller sites in Monmouthshire, and asked him to supply the evidence that my leaflets caused the cost of the consultation to rise. It is an utterly ridiculous claim.”
Conservative group leader Cllr Richard John, who questioned Cllr Griffiths on the “significant” consultation increase, added: “I thought his answer was extraordinary.
“He needs to justify why a consultation, which the council said would cost £4,000, has more than doubled in price. Instead, the finger of blame is being pointed at our MP and Cllr Griffiths needs to come forward with evidence to substantiate this.
“I will be pursuing the matter on behalf of hard-pressed taxpayers who will ultimately be footing the bill.”