A COUNCILLOR who criticised attendance at ceremony to honour the armed forces said he stands by his comments – even though he didn’t attend the flag raising.

Conservative Alistair Neill, who chairs Monmouthshire County Council’s performance scrutiny committee, claimed this week the “really poor” attendance at a ceremony to raise the Armed Forces Flag at County Hall had given a bad impression of the authority to the military. 

The Gobion Fawr councillor said: “It was only earlier this week there was a really poor attendance at the armed forces flag raising ceremony – that doesn’t, I think, put the council in a good view, or line of sight, of colleagues in the armed services.”   

But Cllr Neill confirmed to the Local Democracy Service that despite his comments he hadn’t attended the ceremony, and said he wasn’t criticising any individual councillors or political groups. 

The councillor said he hadn’t been able to attend as he had another meeting related to his employment. 

But he said he still found the turnout for the event held at County Hall in Usk during the working day on Monday, June 19, disappointing. 

He said: “I was simply making the point that my understanding there was a low attendance, I didn’t say from any particular group. 

“It was a low attendance and we need to do more to make sure really important events like that have a better attendance and that might be the timing, and it not clashing with other events, as I think quite a number of colleagues had other commitments.” 

Councillor Peter Strong, who represents Rogiet and who led the ceremony, said he was more concerned about the council’s actions than attendance at a ceremonial event, with the flag raised ahead of Armed Forces Day this Saturday. 

The Labour councillor who is the armed forces champion with responsibility for raising issues related to service personnel, their families and veterans across the council, said: “What I think is important is that Monmouthshire County Council’s attitude to the armed forces is much better.  

“We are the Welsh Veterans’ employer of the year and at the ceremony a member of the British Legion told me how Monmouthshire County Council had treated one of its members in a very difficult situation, those are the things that really matter.”