Charity left shocked by Holywell councillor's 'Taliban' jibe

Reporter:

David Humphreys

A VETERAN councillor has likened a community charity to the Taliban.

Long-serving Holywell councillor Gareth Roberts said TCC Wales, a charity which works with community groups to take action on issues affecting communities in North East Wales, was akin to the brutal Afghan fundamentalist Islamic political movement with close links to Al-Qaeda.

The comparison, which was met with dismay by representatives from the charity, was made during a full council meeting yesterday when Cllr Roberts was accepting an award for his long service to public life.

He said the charitable organisation, which has undertaken projects with a range of groups in Flintshire and Wrexham, restricts policy makers in Flintshire.

After the meeting he said: “TCC Wales are like the Taliban. I generally refer to them (TCC) as the Taliban because they undermine everything we try to do in local government.

“Whenever I talk to councillors, I generally refer to them as the Taliban and they would understand what I meant by that.”

The comment was met with consternation by Kay Polley, TCC Wales manager,
“At TCC we were extremely shocked to hear these comments from Cllr Gareth Roberts,” she said. “TCC is an alliance of faith groups, community groups and schools who work together to improve our communities.

“We are a registered charity, and in the past we have worked to get a homeless shelter for Wrexham, and lead the campaign to make Wales a Fairtrade nation.”

Ms Polley added she believed Cllr Roberts’ ill feeling towards the group might stem from a push the charity backed to to lower the speed limit in Holywell.

She added: “His comments have come completely out of the blue. We really have no idea how our actions could have caused him to say such a thing.

“He has made no contact with TCC himself and our staff have never met him.

“We believe it is completely unacceptable for a Flintshire councillor to make such rude and inflammatory comments about a local charity.

“We will be taking further action to address this.”

Flintshire Council deputy leader, Bernie Attridge, who was at yesterday’s meeting, said of Cllr Roberts’ comments: “From a personal note, I believe that organisations shouldn’t be referred to a group like the Taliban.

“To call them the Taliban is below the belt.”

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