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.
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.
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.
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.
With a deal to run Powys still to be reached, one councillor accuses Labour and the Lib Dems of letting voters down.Read the full story ›
Now that Plaid has reached a deal to run Ceredigion, 9 councils remain without overall control after last week's local elections. You know about Powys from my earlier updates. And Gwynedd, where Plaid is a seat away from a majority, awaits the outcome of a by-election on June 14th.
In Monmouthshire, the Conservatives are said to be talking to Lib Dems and independents. Labour there has decided to stay in opposition despite 'overtures.' Vale of Glamorgan, Wrexham, Flintshire will almost certainly be run Labour and Independent coalitions. The same is likely in Carmarthenshire.
An 'anti-Tory alliance' of Independent, Labour, Plaid and Lib Dem councillors which was running Conwy looks set to continue. In Denbighshire, Labour's opted for opposition which means talks continue between Conservative, Plaid, Lib Dem and Independent councillors.
More news from the talks in Powys to add to what I told you earlier. The Welsh Liberal Democrat leader there, Councillor John Morris, says his group has turned down an offer to chair a scrutiny committee and has committed itself to 'effective opposition and scrutiny.'
Efforts to form an administration in Powys continue to cause interest. I told you here that opposition from Welsh leaders of both Labour and the Conservatives apparently led to the breakdown of what could have been an extraordinary Labour-Conservative-Independent coalition.
I now hear that what looks likely to emerge is a Tory-Independent minority administration which would have tacit support from the Labour group despite opposition from party leaders. The Lib Dems, I'm told, have agreed to sit on the sidelines if they're given the chair of a scrutiny committee.
Labour says its councillors won't get involved in running the council but will play an important role in scrutinising whoever does. And no deal is certain: whatever bad feeling exists between official parties, I gather it's nothing compared to hostility amongst the different groups of Independents.
Plaid Cymru has confirmed that it will lead Ceredigion council after successfully negotiating a coalition deal with some Independent councillors. Until last week's elections, Ceredigion had been run by a coalition of Independents, Lib Dems and Labour councillors.
A little more information on the talks to form an administration in Powys. I gather negotiations to reach what would have been an extraordinary deal between some Independent councillors, Labour and the Conservatives has broken down.
I understand that was because both Labour and Conservative parties back in Cardiff were unhappy about the idea. Welsh Labour will only say that it has decided to take an opposition role on the council.
The Lib Dems are said to have ruled themselves out of any talks after losing their leader and the Independents don't have enough numbers to rule as a single group which means it's back to the drawing board.
Talks are still going on at the 9 local authorities left without a single party or group in overall control. What I knew earlier this week is here and here. Today a Labour source tells me the party is still negotiating with Independents in Vale of Glamorgan, Wrexham, Flintshire and Carmarthenshire.
Labour councillors won't take part in running Powys, and look certain to form the opposition in Monmouthshire and Denbighshire.
A Conservative source tells me the party's involved in coalition talks in Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham but that talks are ongoing and not to expect answers 'anytime soon.'
Talks are now taking place to try to form administrations in the 9 local authorities left without one party or grouping in overall control. A Labour source tells me the party is set to form alliances with Independent councillors in order to take charge of Vale of Glamorgan, Flintshire and Wrexham.
Labour expects to be in opposition in Denbighshire, Pembrokeshire and Monmouthshire. It says discussions are ongoing in Carmarthenshire and expects Conwy's power-sharing arrangement, known by some as an 'anti-Tory' coalition, to continue. A Plaid source agrees that that scenario is likely in Conwy.
Plaid's also said it wants to talk to other parties and independents in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. I understand the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups in Monmouthshire are in talks, but have no more details on that yet. I'll update you when I do.