Powys council has now chosen a leader, signalling that a deal to run the authority has finally been done. The new leader is Councillor David Jones who leads the group of independents known as the Shire Independents. He narrowly beat the previous leader Councillor Michael Jones.
The new leader has yet to name his cabinet. Close observers of the complicated Powys politics predict that there'll be some former opponents brought into the fold.
I told you last night that a deal had been done to form a multi-party administration to run Conwy. I got the figures wrong! The new cabinet will actually be made up of 3 Plaid counillors, 4 Independent, 2 Labour and 1 Lib Dem.
Plaid Cymru's Councillor Dilwyn Roberts was re-elected as leader at the authority's annual meeting this morning. His deputy will be Labour Councillor Ronnie Hughes. Stuart Anderson and Liz Roberts were chosen as Chair and Vice Chair respectively. Here's the rest of the cabinet:
- Councillor Jason Weyman [Ind] - Finance & Resources
- Councillor Graham Rees [Ind] - Communication, Marketing & Leisure
- Councillor Chris Hughes [Lab] - Social Care & Health
- Councillor Wyn Ellis Jones [PC] - Skills & Lifelong Learning
- Councillor Dave Cowans [Ind] - Environment
- Councillor Phil Edwards [PC] - Communities
- Councillor Philip Evans [Ind] - Governance & Regulation
- Councillor Mike Priestly [Lib Dem] - Highways & Property
I've heard tonight that a deal has been agreed to form a multi-party administration for Conwy council. It won't be finalised until a meeting at 10am tomorrow but I gather it's a new version of the 'anti-Tory alliance' which ran Conwy before the election.
I understand the cabinet will be made up of 2 Labour councillors, 3 Liberal Democrats, 2 Independents and 3 Plaid members. The Conservatives will provide the opposition.
I've managed to speak to Powys councillor Gareth Ratcliffe who confirmed that he has left the Conservative group and become an unaligned Independent as I told you earlier. He said his reason for this was that he wants to take part in decision-making in any new administration.
His group had been in talks to form a coalition, first with Labour until that was halted by both parties' chiefs, and then with one of the independent groups. But Councillor Ratcliffe, says he felt he needs to have a say in the decision on controversial school and supermarket plans for Hay-on-Wye.
I was left with a choice to be in the tent or outside the tent. I could have avoided hard work and blamed the administration or been been honest with my residents. I was in opposition last time. I don't want just to be a voice not being listened to this time.
He admits to some discontent with his party but insists his main aim is to make sure his residents are listened to. He insists he doesn't know whether or not he'll be offered a cabinet role but says he has put his name forward to be part of the emerging Independent administration.
A source in Powys tells me one of the leading Conservatives councillors Gareth Ratcliffe, has left the Tory group to become an unaligned Independent. I haven't yet been able to confirm this directly with Councillor Ratcliffe so I can't tell you if it means he's been offered a cabinet job or not.
As I reported yesterday Monmouthshire council will now be run by a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Some final details are still being worked out but it should be agreed at the council's AGM tonight. It's been warmly welcomed by the Conservatives' Assembly leader, Andrew RT Davies:
Under Conservative stewardship Monmouthshire council became a beacon of transparency with all expenditure above one pound made publicly available. Council tax was frozen by the authority, investment in roads was significantly increased, primary schools were rebuilt or remodelled and more efficient services were introduced.
Continued Conservative leadership of the council will ensure local people in Monmouthshire get the very best services and outstanding value for money.
There's been no official response yet from the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams. But a senior Monmouthshire Lib Dem tells me things will be very different, that there'll be 'a cultural change' in the way the authority is run and that 'it won't be business as usual.'
This is not just a partnership between parties, but will be a partnership with voluntary groups, individuals, anyone who has ideas for improving Monmouthshire. If you have those ideas, come to us: we will back you.
It now looks very likely that Monmouthshire will be run by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration. I gather Lib Dems in the county voted in favour of a coalition at a meeting last night. There's no official confirmation yet and some details are to be finalised, but the deal is nearly done.
Talks to form an administration in Powys seem to have moved on since the developments I told you about yesterday. I'm told that, as a result of the email I wrote about from Councillor Liam Fitzpatrick, any attempts by the two Independent groups to reach agreement with each other have been abandoned.
I gather talks now are focussing on a deal which would leave Councillor David Jones, the leader of the Shires Independents group, in control of the council with the support of 'various' other members including some who currently belong to the rival Powys Independent Alliance.
They'd be asked to reclassify themselves as 'unaligned' before they join Councillor Jones' cabinet. It seems a resolution to these tortuous negotiations may be in sight.
Labour's dominance of Welsh local government has advanced west with the party gaining the leadership of Carmarthenshire. Plaid Cymru, who are the largest party on the county council, will stay in opposition after independent councillors decided to renew their coalition agreement with Labour.
As Labour now outnumber the independents by 23 to 21, the party will provide the council leader, replacing Cllr Meryl Gravell. She is currently the longest serving leader in Wales and steps down after 13 years heading coalitions, originally with Plaid Cymru but with Labour for the last eight years.
– Labour Group Leader Cllr Kevin Madge
I am delighted that we have formed the new coalition with the Independents. We can carry on the good work done over the last eight years delivering for the people of Carmarthenshire in both rural and urban areas.
– Independent Group Leader Cllr Pam Palmer
After careful consideration, we have decided that it will be in the best interests of the residents of Carmarthenshire to continue our existing coalition with the Labour group. The coalition has delivered record investment in schools, housing and regeneration, and we want to build on that success, with a particular focus on rural areas.
– Plaid Cymru Group Leader Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths
This is a slap in the face for the 30,000 Carmarthenshire people who voted for us a week ago, I’m sure that thousands of people who voted Independent will also be deeply disappointed that their councillors have decided to support a Labour-led council. Having contested barely more than half the 74 seats, the Labour party have contrived to lead the council, despite not bothering to seek a mandate from a significant number of voters in the county.”
Plaid Cymru have 28 Carmarthenshire councillors and say they should have been included on the executive board that runs the council. The Labour-Independent coalition agreement is initially for 12 months and will be reviewed after a year.