I don't claim to understand Powys politics. I'm not sure anybody does. But from what I'm hearing talks to form an administration have taken an even more bitter turn.
You may remember that no single party or group has overall control of the council following last week's local elections. The majority of councillors are independents. But they don't see eye to eye and have formed into two groups which are said to be at loggerheads.
Now Labour and the Liberal Democrats have also come under fire from a leading Brecon councillor who accuses them of 'self-serving cowardice' by 'deliberately choosing' to remain in opposition rather than to work with each other and the independents to try to reach an agreement.
And he claims that by refusing to try to take part in running the council, the cabinet will end up with a Montgomeryshire bias which will harm the Brecon part of Powys.
'To lead takes guts' writes Councillor Kevin Fitzpatrick in an email he's sent to his electors in Brecon, and 'the attitude of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Labour shows that they have no guts.'
Labour says it's determined to provide strong scrutiny. A senior Liberal Democrat source told me the party's councillors take the view that the onus is on the independents to form an administration.
What's upset people apparently is that firstly Councillor Fitzpatrick has been a cabinet member and secondly the ferocity with which he's turned on his former party, the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
The source tells me it's highlighted the divisions between the two Independent groups and a power struggle between the two leaders.
However when I spoke to Councillor Fitzpatrick tonight he said he's had no emails, no calls, no response from any other councillors, despite expecting to be fielding complaints and calls.
And while he admitted he got his mileage wrong he told me he stands by his email. He said he thinks it's 'shameful' that two political parties should sit out talks to form an administration.
He said he and people living in his area feel 'shocked and upset' that they've ruled out taking part in talks even before they've really begun. They should, he thinks, feel duty bound at least to join in talks.
Here's the email in full:
DID YOU VOTE FOR A GOVERNMENT 240 MILES AWAY???
DID YOU VOTE, HOPING YOUR CHOSEN PARTY WOULD DELIBERATELY CHOOSE TO BEIN OPPOSITION, RATHER THAN LEAD???
IF THE ANSWER TO EITHER OF THESE QUESTIONS IS NO, YOU HAVE BEEN SEVERELYLET DOWN BY THE PEOPLE YOU TRUSTED.
The results of the recent elections showed conclusively that the residents of Powys have no faith in the ‘main’ political parties. The overwhelming victory was placed by YOU into the hands of the Independents.
However, in order to work as effectively aspossible, there needs to be an allegiance between the Independents and one ofthe main political parties.
*It is a known fact that it is far easier to be in opposition than tolead. *
To lead takes guts*. *
The attitude of the Welsh Liberal Democratsand Labour shows that they have no guts. They refuse toco-operate, and have chosen strategically to remain in opposition, according toa direct quote from the Lib Dem leader John Morris, because that way …‘it willbe easier to regain power next time’.
In the meantime – and ‘next time’ is 5 yearsaway - what of Powys?
The consequences of this self-servingcowardice are dire. These consequences will affect all that we have fought foron behalf of our county.
Brecon Museum, Theatr Brycheiniog and other organisations could besacrificed on the pyre of this cowardice.
On Thursday May 17th, Brecon andRadnor Liberal Democrats and the Labour party are due to vote into power a MontgomeryshireGovernment that is *240 miles away fromBrecon. *
What will happen to our schools, ourservices, our childrens’ future? It could all be sacrificed in a nastypolitical game.
Councillor Liam Fitzpatrick says
‘Topass power onto people who probably have no idea where Brecon is, for the pointof political gain, is absolutelyshameful. We will have no representation mid or south of the county with regardto fundamental decisions regarding our lives, for example Brecon High school,Brecon Museum or Theatr Brycheiniog’.
IS THIS WHAT YOU VOTED FOR???
**I've heard from Councillor Fitzpatrick again. He says:
These are dire economic times. We elect politicians to guide us and to make decisions - at all levels whether that be parish councils or nationally. To decide to go into opposition without knowing any of the policies, aims or objectives of an incoming government is as I have said, nothing short of bizarre and my residents in this small ward in the Brecon Beacons are outraged and have lost faith in the political process.
UPDATE 2 1315 15th May
**Things may have moved on since I wrote this article but I wanted to add some of the response it received on twitter.
@adrianmasters84 1/2 I wonder why nobodys replied to his email-Is it maybe because people take what Liam says with a pinch of salt? Is it
@adrianmasters84 2/2 that nobody's bothered to read it?