Complaint filed as planning committee chairman caught on open mic calling retired Major ‘bloody old fool’

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Apr 12th, 2019.

A complaint has been filed against a planning chairman after he appeared to call a retired army major a ‘bloody old fool’.

Councillor Mike Morris, who presides over Wrexham Council’s planning committee, is said to have made the comments after permission was granted for 51 houses on land surrounding Llay’s Royal British Legion last month.

Major Donald Moore, who lives in Holt, spoke up against the proposals, as he said the land was paid for by the ex-services community which did not want the scheme to go ahead.

As we documented, his speech at Wrexham’s Guildhall he also made reference to the Magna Carta, which was alluded to by planning officer David Williams shortly after councillors voted the plans through.

In a webcast recording which can be viewed on the council’s website, Mr Williams is heard to say: “Did he quote the Magna Carta last time?”

Cllr Morris, who represents Holt on the local authority, then responds: “Yes he did, bloody old fool. He lives in my ward.”

Soon afterwards, he seems to realise his microphone is switched on and turns it off – with an audible comment caught at that point too.

You can view the exchange below, grabbed from Wrexham Council’s webcasting system – although we have been unable to pin down what the exact comment was before the mic was switched off.

Earlier in the debate, there was an abrupt exchange between the pair after Cllr Morris told Major Moore he had gone over the allocated time limit for public speakers.

The former aircraft accident investigator for the British Army has now written to the council’s monitoring officer to complain about the politician’s comments.

In his letter, he criticised the ‘unacceptable’ behaviour of Cllr Morris and called for him to stand down from his committee role.

He said: “Age is a relative matter and I do not consider myself to be old.

“I may be many things but I am not a ‘fool’, old or otherwise.

“I spoke on behalf of those Llay residents who gave their lives in two world wars so that we and Mr Morris and Mr Williams can live in peace.

“Mr Morris is clearly unfit to hold the office of chairman of the planning committee and should resign that post.

“If the electorate were to be aware of his contempt for them, they would not vote for him.”

Major Moore explained that he mentioned the Magna Carta as he believed the committee’s decision to go against its previous conclusion to refuse the plans was a breach of the 803-year-old document.

He also accused Mr Williams of failing to show respect and asked for his conduct to be investigated.

The scheme – which includes a shop and a boxing club – was resubmitted by staff at the RBL headquarters in London after it was originally turned down last year.

The U-turn by councillors came despite objections from local members who fear their club will close, as well as concerns about the additional pressure on Llay’s GP surgery.

A spokesperson for Wrexham Council said: “We can confirm that this matter has been raised with the council and it is being looked into.”
Cllr Morris said he did not wish to comment until after the authority’s investigation has concluded.

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme) /

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