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Are we heading for a Lib Dem/Labour Powys cabinet?

Created on 10/05/2022 @ 09:54

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Negotiations are going on behind the scenes to try and form a new ruling administration for Powys County Council following a stalemate caused by last week’s election.

All will be revealed at the annual meeting on May 26, but it is looking likely that a new coalition made up of Liberal Democrats, Labour and a few others will have been finalised.

Having won the most council seats, the likely candidate as Council Leader is local Liberal Democrat chief, Cllr James Gibson-Watt, who confirmed that discussions with potential coalition partners are taking place, but he is keeping his cards close to his chest.

“Negotiations are underway and I’m confident that we’ll be able to form an administration in good time for the AGM,” said Cllr Gibson-Watt.

“I’d rather keep it confidential for the moment, but I do think we’ll be able to put together a very good administration.”

Cllr Gibson-Watt (right) did confirm that the Conservative group would not be part of the administration as they are “too far apart on too many things”.

“It wouldn’t work on either side,” said Cllr Gibson-Watt.

Labour group leader Cllr Matthew Dorrance said: “I have spoken to James; discussions are ongoing and there’s more work to do – we plan to talk again. It is hoped we will have a functioning administration by the annual meeting.”

With Labour likely to bring nine councillors to the coalition, the figures go up to 33 of 68 councillors, tantalisingly short of an outright majority.

To get to the magic number of 35, it is expected that the Lib Dems will ask the Green Party’s new councillor, Jeremy Thorp, to come on board.

But getting any more councillors to join them will depend on what happens to the bloc of 17 independent councillors that were voted on to the council.

It is expected that the 17 will fragment into smaller groups – one of which would join the coalition.

Powys Conservative group leader, Cllr Aled Davies, said: “I’m not expecting to be part of the cabinet in the near future.

“I have congratulated James (Gibson-Watt) and I am a bit worried with what the Liberal Democrats promised on the campaign trail and that it will be impossible to realise, and I want to make sure schools will get the investment they need.

“We did reasonably well in Montgomeryshire, we returned the same numbers that we had in 2017 and were one vote away from gaining another ward.

“The performance in Brecon and Radnorshire was disappointing with only one member being elected, but the Independent group received the biggest hit.

“We want to be a constructive opposition and will be working to make sure the people of Powys receive improving and the best services possible.”


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