Monitoring officer advises council leader not to participate in vote on skate park development following complaint by lawyers behind judicial review challenge

The leader of Swansea Council has chosen not to debate or vote on a controversial skatepark development after receiving a complaint claiming he has a personal and prejudicial interest in the issue.

Plans to transfer land from the city council to Mumbles Community Council to facilitate the development have been in the pipeline for at least a year, but the project has experienced delays following legal challenges mounted by local residents.

Residents of Mumbles Road launched a judicial review in May 2021, challenging the process by which the council transferred the land earmarked for the skate park.

The challenge resulted in the High Court quashing the council's decision to transfer the land.

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At the time, Cllr Rob Stewart, leader of the council, said Swansea chose to concede the decision in order to avoid a "lengthy and costly legal process".

Now, in the run-up to the cabinet considering a new report on the skatepark, Cllr Stewart has been subject to a complaint.

In a statement to full council, Cllr Stewart said the council's monitoring officer had advised him not to participate in the forthcoming decision on the skatepark because he is deemed to potentially have a personal and prejudicial interest.

He added: "This is because a formal complaint has been submitted from solicitors acting on behalf of the claimants in the judicial review that was brought against the council. Therefore I have been advised not to take any part in that decision making at cabinet."

"The decision will therefore be taken by my cabinet colleagues in due course but as I am not taking part in the decision of course I will now be free to express my personal views on the skatepark and it will come as no surprise to members that I voted for the proposal previously and I remain predisposed to supporting skatepark facilities in Swansea."

Cllr Chris Holley OBE, Liberal Democrats and Independents group leader, stated his "disappointment" that the leader will not be able to take part in the debate. "It is very critical that the leader of council takes part in these debates," he added.

Another councillor said it was an example of somebody playing the "legal line".

In the same council meeting, Cllr Stewart announced a further £500,000 in investment to improve and potentially develop new skate park facilities across Swansea.

Adam Carey

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