Apology after ‘idiot’ gaffe during Anglesey Council Zoom meeting

A debate over climate change was overshadowed by the council’s deputy leader seemingly being called an “idiot” in what was later described as an accidental remark.

The exchange, during a motion calling for more commitments by Anglesey Council to carbon reduction, saw Cllr Ieuan Williams take umbrage over the comment which was heard after he voted down the opposition proposal.

But the leader of the opposition, admitting responsibility, has now explained the incident as an accident.

He went on to apologise for not muting his microphone but that it was not in relation to the goings on of the meeting.

The comment sparked outrage from some members, with the “disgraceful” comments brought to the attention to the chair, Cllr Glyn Haynes.

“Is Bryan (Owen) going to apologise now? He called me an idiot,” said Cllr Williams, with Cllr Carwyn Jones also confirming he heard the remark.

Cllr Nicola Roberts added, “Its one thing to blame one another of political games, but its a different matter when you throw around horrible names towards each other.

“We’re elected to represent the people with grace and respect, but if we can’t do so who will?”

Cllr Bryan Owen attempted to respond  during the meeting but was not given the opportunity to do so, while the authority’s Chief Executive confirmed that officers would probe the incident by reviewing the footage.

But speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Owen apologised for the incident but said his accidental remark was not in reference to Cllr Williams.

Noting he had already contacted officers to explain, he added: “I was at home, as most of us are for these meetings, when my wife was trying to tell me about an incident going on at the road just outside my house.

“I wasn’t calling anyone in the meeting an idiot, it wasn’t even a particularly fiery item, but was a reference to what was going on outside.

“I apologise that my microphone was not on mute but given we’re all at home rather than the council chamber at the moment, these things can happen.

“I phoned the Chief Executive and Cllr Williams after the meeting to explain what had happened.”

The motion, presented by Cllr Bob Llewelyn Jones, had sought a commitment to a net zero carbon buildings declaration.

But it was not supported by the ruling Plaid Cymru/independent administration nor the Labour group, having been presented and backed by the Annibynnwyr Môn main opposition grouping.

According to Cllr Aled Morris Jones, the motion “should be unifying the chamber” while pointing out that Cllr Bob Llewelyn Jones had a track record of pushing for action on climate change.

The administration argued that having already supported the declaration of a climate emergency as well as recently employing a project managed to lead the authority’s carbon reduction proposals, the council was “already down the path” the motion was proposing.

With a target of a carbon neutral Welsh public sector by 2030, it was also pointed out that projects such as the replacement of street lighting with more energy efficient and cheaper LED lighting had been on track for several years.

North Wales Chronicle | Anglesey