PONTYPOOL market traders have spoken out over remarks made by town councillor Mike Harris, writing a letter of complaint to Torfaen County Borough Council.

The letter was handed to council leader Bob Wellington by Pontypool community councillor Gaynor James last Friday after Cllr Harris publicly criticised this Saturday’s Record and Craft Fair on Facebook whilst promoting a rival event in Cwmbran.

Angela Hughes, Pontypool market manager, said: “This isn’t the first time he has been negative about Pontypool, its hurting the market and the whole town.

“We are trying hard to build up the town after the refurbishment and we are not going to get there if we don’t have some support from our local councillor.”

The remarks were made on February 24, when sharing the Facebook page of the event Cllr Harris referred the market as from “Pontyfool” before criticising parking in the town.

Cllr Harris added that “Large crowds are to be expected with three people confirmed as going.”

The following day he promoted the rival Henllys Village Craft Fair in Cwmbran.

Pontypool market traders have signed a letter claiming Cllr Harris is treating Pontypool’s fair in a “derisory and prejudicial manner, falling short of the standards we expect of our town councillor”.

Cllr Harris, born in Pontypool but lives in Cwmbran, said: “Henllys is a lovely privately run market, and I will be going there. It is a waste of time having any event [in Pontypool] and they are flogging a dead horse.

“Decisions by the Labour council have killed the town, they focus on Cwmbran and neglect the north of the county. I suggested before the refurbishment having outdoor seating in a Mediterranean style like they have in Abergavenny, which they ignored.

“I said those comments as a member of the public, not as a councillor but if they want to blame me then fine.”

Mr Harris has previously received complaints for his online activity. In August 2014 his comment that lesbians should get “a Barbie doll if they want to play at being a mum” led to an investigation by monitoring officer Lynda Willis, with no action taken.

Cllr Lewis Jones, executive member for regeneration, said: “It’s disappointing that the ward councillor for Pontypool would go online to rubbish this event and talk the town down in favour of an event on the same day in Henllys, where he lives. Rather than mock traders initiative, I would rather he went online to show support for these hard working small business people and encourage people to visit the town.”