‘Councillors? They are old an useless’

South Wales Evening Post - 28 February 2009

A councillor is quitting more than half of the council committees he is on – because he says they are a waste of time.

Mayals ward member Rene Kinzett, who caused controversy after claiming most councillors knew “less than his cat”, said the groups seldom produced any worthwhile results.

He also took a swipe at his detractors who are calling for the Tory leader’s full resignation.

Now he has blasted his colleagues as group of “past-it” over-60s who have never left Swansea.

Mr Kinzett said: “The vast majority of these committee meetings are a complete waste of time. They are unproductive and nothing ever gets done.

“I plan to stay on the ones that are of use, but the others are little more than just talking shops.”

Mr Kinzett he had resigned from six of the 10 committees he was on, following yesterday’s full council meeting at the Civic Centre.

It follows a row between him and rival councillors over his attendance.

Mr Kinzett has turned up to 12 out of 92 meetings since last year’s election. But he insisted it was his choice to step down from the committees.

“Some committee meetings take place so infrequently and where I am not able to attend my deputy will stand in my place,” he said.

“Being the leader of the Conservatives, I have regular access to the council’s chief executive, so it is not like I am out of touch. Far better I spend my time on the ground working with people in my ward.”

However, his political rivals stuck the knife into the Conservative member – criticising his day job with a lobbying group in London.

Mawr councillor Ioan Richards said it was time for Councillor Kinzett to resign and to stand down from the council altogether.

He said: “The Tories must surely strip him of the leadership of their party in Swansea and deselect him from any candidature in Swansea.

“Swansea and Mayals deserve better representation. I appeal strongly to Swansea Tories to kick him out now.

Local trader Peter Birch, who was defeated by Mr Kinzett at last year’s local election, agreed.

“I’ve made no secret of the fact I would love to be a councillor for the Mayals ward”, he said.

“The people deserve some who is going to be at meetings to represent their views all of the time”.

But councillor Kinzett hit back at the claims. He said, “Most of the people on the council are in their 60s and, quite frankly, past it.

“Perhaps it would do them some good to other cities such as London and learn from things there, rather than only leave Swansea once a year to go on holiday in Spain.

“If you look at my attendance at full Council meetings, it is much better than others.

“Rob Speht gets an extra £10,000 on top of the normal councillor allowance to be chairman on an overview board, yet he finds it acceptable to miss important council meetings, including a budget meeting that allocated £350 million of tax-payers’ money on Monday. He works for a company based in London and works all over UK and Europe on wind farm projects.”

Lib Dem councillor member Councillor Speht, speaking from India en-route to China, said he felt disappointed at being dragged into the argument.

“Rene is the only person on Swansea Council who both lives a works full-time outside of the city,” he said.

“He should make a decision as to where his priorities lie”

We Say

Rene continues to air his view

You have to hand it to Rene Kinzett – when he finds himself in hot water, he is not in the habit of playing it safe by keeping quiet.

The Swansea councillors was criticised by colleagues for his poor attendance at committee meetings.

He responded by saying that most of them were a waste of time, and most councillors “knew less than his cat”.

Now he has been criticised for resigning from six of his 10 committees, with political rivals calling on him to resign his seat and be done with it.

And how does Councillor Kinzett respond? By calling his colleagues a group of “past it” over-60s who have never left Swansea.

Mr Kinzett turned up to 12 out of 92 meetings since last year’s election. And one man who must find this particularly galling is the man he beat in the election to Mayals ward, Peter Birch.
He feels the voters of Mayals deserve someone who will represent their views at every opportunity.

Whether the people of Mayals are being served adequately is a matter for the next election.
But perhaps the most annoying part of this squabble is the feeling that Councillor Kinzett may have a point.

If real power is now confined to cabinet members, councillors should concentrate their protests there, rather than on the controversial views of one man.