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.