NEWPORT City Council’s deputy leader has told a city activist the authority’s Labour group doesn’t think council resources should be used for any activities connected to the Nato summit.
Pippa Bartolotti had approached council leader Bob Bright to ask if Newport would invite the No to Nato Newport protest group to host an alternative summit in the city.
But Labour councillor Ray Truman wrote back to her on behalf of the ruling Labour councillor group, appearing to turn her down.
Newport council yesterday distanced itself from the remark, saying Cllr Truman wasn’t speaking for the authority.
The alternative summit, which protestors want to hold on on August 31, could see between 400 to 600 people attend talks focusing on nonviolent conflict resolution.
There had been hopes it could have been hosted in Newport Centre, but Newport said no council-backed venue is available.
Ms Bartolotti, leader of the Wales Green Party, e-mailed Bob Bright on April 25 requesting the event be held in Newport at his invitation.
She claimed such an offer was officially confirmed with Cardiff but “the fact is that Newportonians would much rather hold their event in their own city”.
She also asked Ray Truman, in a separate e-mail, if Newport councillors would sign a statement outlining some of the reasons why activists are protesting.
On May 5 Cllr Truman emailed the activists on behalf of the Labour group, saying: “Whilst we respect and appreciate your decision to protest, the summit is a matter of national and international - not city council - politics.
“We therefore do not consider it to be an appropriate use of the council’s resources to take part in or facilitate any activities in connection with the Nato summit whether for or against,” he added.
Ms Bartolotti said: “This was not going to be an unruly thing. This was going to be a proper dignified alternative. It was going to give Newport a fantastic opportunity.”
A statement from a council spokeswoman, understood to be approved by council leader Bob Bright, said that Newport Centre is a designated emergency centre during the summit “so will not be available for bookings,” while the Riverfront Theatre schedule was confirmed months ahead.
She said: “There are therefore no suitable council-run facilities available as per the request.
“Newport City Council is committed to maximising the opportunities that hosting the Nato summit may offer.
“Equally, our priority will always be to protect the interests and safety of our residents, businesses and employees and with this in mind will consider every opportunity and request on its own merit.”
“Cllr Truman’s private email response was made on behalf of the Labour group not the city council,” the statement added.
Cllr Truman yesterday told the Argus he had nothing to add.
UPDATE 5.17pm: An alternative summit due to take place in August is provisionally booked for County Hall in Cardiff and not the capital’s City Hall as previously suggested, a senior councillor in the city has indicated.
Sue Lent, deputy leader of Cardiff Council, told the Argus that a provisional booking had been made for County Hall – the council’s offices in the capital.
“We haven’t worked out the final details. There is a provisional booking there,” she said.