A COUNCILLOR, who resigned after Pembroke Town Council voted against taking down a portrait of a child rapist ex-mayor, has said the council isn’t respecting the views of the public.

The mayoral portrait was on display in Pembroke Town Hall, amongst other former mayors, more than a year after David Boswell was found guilty of raping one girl and indecently assaulting another when they were both aged under 10.

Boswell was jailed for 18 years in 2018 for historic child sex offences, pre-dating his time as mayor and county councillor.

At Thursday’s February 13 meeting of Pembroke Town Council, members rejected an impassioned plea by Councillor Jon Harvey for it to be removed permanently, deciding instead the picture should be turned to face the wall.

Members voted 13 to two in favour of the portrait of the disgraced former mayor remaining.

Cllr Harvey, also a county councillor, resigned from the town council at the February 13 meeting immediately after that vote.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “My resignation from Pembroke Town Council was by no means pre-planned.

“Following concerns expressed by residents just over a month ago I emailed the town clerk (copied to all town councillors) expressing my view that the photograph of the former mayor should be taken down.

“I also pressed for an extraordinary meeting to be held in order that a decision would be made quickly on this matter. Including myself, only two town councillors supported this idea, with five needing to do so to allow the meeting to take place. As a consequence, the matter rolled on to the meeting of the town council held on February 13.

“I attended last night’s meeting of town council (February 13) convinced that common sense would prevail; that there would be a realisation that a grave error of judgement had been made and that the photograph would be removed out of empathy for, and as a mark of respect to, the survivors of his most heinous of crimes.

“In this respect the current mayor [Cllr Gareth Jones] put forward a motion that the photograph be removed for the life of this council and I tabled an amendment that it be kept down for a significantly longer period (60-100 years) and that all images on the town council’s Facebook page be removed.

“As the debate continued, it became clear that many of those councillors present were more concerned about the former mayor’s place in history, as well as attacking the member of the public who initially raised this matter on social media.

“The inference being ‘how dare a member of the public raise a matter publicly’.

“Next up it was the turn of the press to be criticised for publishing the story and quoting the member of the public in the article.

“Councillor Nutting (once he had finished giving his little lecture) then put a counter proposal that the photograph remain hanging up but turned around with the former mayor’s name displayed on the back.

“Following a recorded vote this motion was approved, with only myself and Cllr Aden Brinn voting against it. Despite being given an assurance that there would be a vote on the original motion, following the vote of Cllr Nutting’s proposal, I was then told this could not happen.

“Whilst I will always respect a democratic vote on any issue, this decision of the overwhelming number of town councillors was not one I could subscribe to, given the clear strength of public opposition.

“I am not aware of any member of the public supporting the retention of the photograph in situ, either facing out or turned around.

“I am sure there are no pictures of Jimmy Saville facing the wall in Stoke Mandeville Hospital or Hitler hanging in the Reichstag.

“Members of the town council seem more concerned with history, attacking a member of the public and attacking the freedom of the press, than actually grasping the simple concept that the public don’t want that photograph on the wall.

“Whilst they may claim that they represent the electorate, this decision, in my opinion, shows that they clearly do not.

“For the above reasons, and as a matter of principle, I tendered my resignation with immediate effect following the vote. I do not want to remain a part of a town council that does not represent the views of the electorate, shows no understanding of the importance of this matter to the public and does not believe in press freedom.

“I still remain as county councillor for the Pembroke St Mary North Ward and will continue to serve the good folk of the Ward to the best of best of my abilities.”

A change.org online petition, calling for the removal of the portrait, has attracted nearly 300 signatures to date.