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Independents leaders emerge

Created on 19/05/2022 @ 07:55

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Two leaders have emerged to head the official Independent group at Powys County Council following the carnage caused by the shock election results two weeks ago.

At the moment, 16 of the 17 that were elected as independents on May 5 are bunched together in one group with Cllr Geoff Morgan, who topped the poll in the Ithon Valley, now officially noted as a “Non-Affiliated” councillor.

Independent councillors have met to discuss their future and elect a new leader following the surprise defeat of former council leader and Independent group leader, Rosemarie Harris at the election.

Following a tied vote, it emerged that both former cabinet member Cllr Heulwen Hulme, and Action for Powys founder, Cllr Jeremy Pugh will function as joint leaders, for now.

Cllr Hulme said: “We’re running as one joint group until the annual meeting, what happens after that, I’m not too sure.”

Cllr Pugh said: “We’ve come together and are trying to find a way that’s acceptable to all of us to go forward as one Independent group. I have spoken to James (Gibson-Watt – head of Lib Dems) briefly.”

Cllr Pugh said that Cllr Gibson-Watt is expected to set out his vision for Powys County Council – which will then be discussed by the whole group.

Cllr Pugh added that he had not been offered a post in the cabinet and that there was no “deal on the table” at the moment.

He said: “Everything is quite laid back – the worst thing anyone could do is rush into things and then find it’s a complete mess. I’d rather take time and get something together that could be successful. What counts is getting the right end result.”

The one big “original” Independent group which shared power with the Conservatives had seen rifts and splits over the five-year period of the last administration.

This saw councillors leave to sit as unaligned members. or form other groups such as Action for Powys and the New Powys group.

Meanwhile, the man who would be leader, Cllr Gibson-Watt, said that discussions on forming a coalition with the Labour group are “progressing well”.

Following the local elections, his Liberal Democrats emerged as the biggest group, with 23 councillors elected – which is a dozen short of the magic number for a majority which is 35.

Labour have nine councillors so he would still need to entice three more to join the ranks.

The council’s annual meeting is set to take place on Thursday, May 26.


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