THE Vale of Glamorgan Council has elected a businessman whose company was fined for rodent infestation as its new licensing committee chairman.

Councillor Vincent Driscoll was director of The Fresh Bacon Company when it was fined £18,000 in 2005 after health inspectors found a mouse and maggots on the floor of the company’s premises in Barry.

He was also fined £4,000 in 2010 after pleading guilty to four hygiene offences at the business – including failing to keep food premises clean and in good condition.

Councillor Driscoll was also suspended for one month by Dinas Powys Community Council in 2015 after allegations he was running dog boarding kennels without a licence from Vale council and for misconduct over a planning matter.

But he was elected as chairman of the authority’s licensing and public protection committee, for which he is paid £9,000-a-year on top of his £13,600 allowance as a councillor,  following an annual meeting of the council on Wednesday night (May 9).

Councillor Driscoll, who has been a Vale of Glamorgan councillor since May 2017,  said he will look to repay the faith shown in him by the council  and asked to be judged on his work and integrity going forwards. 

Plaid Cymru said its group did not support his nomination.

In October 2005, The Fresh Bacon Company was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £1,235.67 in costs to Vale of Glamorgan Council, which brought the prosecution, after admitting six charges of breaching health and hygiene regulations.

Inspectors also found scraps of fresh meat lying on the floor, and dirty equipment including maggots on a meat slicers.

Speaking at the time, councillor Driscoll said his company had “cleaned up our act and learnt big lessons,” bringing in new staff and spending £10,000 on improvements. He claimed former staff at the factory had ignored his instructions on cleaning before he had gone on holiday.

Councillor Driscoll listed The Fresh Bacon Company on the register of councillor’s interests for 2017-18.

In 2015, he was suspended as a member of Dinas Powys Community Council over allegations that he operated dog boarding kennels at his home in Sunnycroft Lane without a licence from Vale of Glamorgan Council.

He told a Vale of Glamorgan Council Standards Committee in December of that year the kennels were not used commercially – despite advertising them – and he had applied for planning permission retrospectively.

Councillor Driscoll had also been accused of failing to declare an interest on at least seven occasions on the community council’s planning sub-committee over plans to improve a horse-riding path which would have encompassed his home. It was also alleged councillor Driscoll ‘lobbied’ members of the committee about the development.

He denied these claims and said he originally thought the bridle path improvements were being made away from his home.

Councillor Ian Johnson, leader of Plaid Cymru on the council and a member of the Licensing Committee, said councillor Driscoll’s appointment is “not a good look”.

He said: “As chair of the Licensing Committee, councillor Driscoll will also be a member of the Shared Regulatory Services Committee that are responsible for public protection, including prosecution for food safety offences of which his company has twice been found guilty.

 “You would have thought that the Conservatives in the Vale would have thought about how this might appear from the outside – especially as councillor Driscoll has no experience of the Vale’s Licensing Committee as a councillor. It’s not a good look.

 “Plaid Cymru councillors did not support his nomination as chair.”

Councillor Driscoll has also served as vice-chairman of the Vale’s planning committee and was also a member of the environment and regeneration scrutiny committee in the previous year.

He said: “The people of Dinas Powys supported me in the election last May. I have worked tirelessly on their behalf in the last 12 months and I will continue to do so.

“I was elected as chair of the licensing and public protection committee by my colleagues in the Conservative group and I will look to repay that faith. What’s happened has happened.

“People have to judge me on my work and integrity going forward.”