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Eight Swansea councillors cleared of wrongdoing over wind farm

Eight Swansea councillors have been cleared of wrongdoing for their role in a bitterly divisive wind farm planning meeting.

A complainant reported John Bayliss, Jennifer Raynor, Christine Richards, John Davies, Pearleen Sangha, Mitchell Theaker, Nick Bradley and Geraint Owens to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, alleging they had breached the council’s code of conduct at a meeting to determine RWE npower renewables’ application for a wind farm near Felindre.

The complainant’s case was largely that councillors who were season ticket holders for the Ospreys – whose main sponsor is RWE – had been allocated tickets, carried out activities in connection with the club or served on the board of Swansea Stadium Management Company, which runs the Liberty Stadium, should have declared either a personal or prejudicial interest at the February 7 meeting.

Declaring a prejudicial interest requires a councillor to leave the chamber before the debate and not vote on the application. A personal interest allows them to stay for the debate and vote.

RWE’s 16-turbine scheme was approved by a narrow margin. In the end, not all of the councillors under scrutiny voted.

Ombudsman investigator Karen Edwards responded to the complainant, known as Mrs BR, with responses for each councillor, saying she did not find sufficient evidence that there was a breach of the code. But she did give Mr Bayliss, cabinet member Mr Theaker and Mr Owens a ticking off.

She considered certain tweets by Mr Bayliss relating to the meeting “inappropriate and disrespectful”, adding that his behaviour in this regard was a “fine line” as to a code of conduct breach. She said she would remind him to consider the effects of tweets or other social networking postings on the public perception of politicians.

She also responded to the claim that he, Mr Theaker and Mr Owens had behaved rudely and disrespectfully towards people who spoke against the application. She said she would tell them to bear in mind the public’s perception of such behaviour.

A complaint about councillor Uta Clay regarding the same meeting is still under consideration.