A CAERPHILLY council opposition leader has refused to hold virtual meetings with the leader of the council, despite multiple offers.

In a cabinet meeting, the council leader and leader of Caerphilly’s Labour group, Cllr Philippa Marsden, said she had reached out to both opposition leaders.

However, while Plaid Cymru’s leader Cllr Colin Mann agreed to regular updates via remote meetings on the Microsoft Teams platform, Independent group leader Cllr Graham Simmonds did not.


Cllr Marsden said: “I have had regular meetings and correspondence with the leader of the Plaid group and that’s been ongoing through the pandemic.

“We’ve had a good relationship in the sense that we’ve updated Cllr Mann on all fronts in relation to things we have had to deal with.

“That has actually worked really well.

“We have had fortnightly meetings which have been invaluable.”

The deputy leader of the council, Cllr Sean Morgan asked whether the leader of the Independent group had refused to meet with Cllr Marsden during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Yes, the offer was given for telephone conferences in the first instance with the leader of the Independent group and then subsequently when we had Teams installed on our machines he refused to take part in those,” Cllr Marsden said.

“He said he would leave it to face-to-face meetings.”

However, the cabinet heard that it could be quite some time before face-to-face meetings take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Simmonds, who took over the Independent group leadership in April, confirmed that he was prepared to meet face-to-face and sees “no point in speaking over the internet with people who refuse to answer questions put by email.”

Face-to-face council meetings were suspended in March following a UK-wide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not clear when it will be possible to hold such meetings again.

Cllr Philippa Marsden and Cllr Graham Simmonds