Shropshire Star

Conservative council group continues Brecon Beacons name change row

No Conservative Powys county councillor will join Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, even though under the rules of political balance it is allowed one member.

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Bannau Brycheiniog

At a meeting of Powys County Council on Thursday, group nominations of councillors to take up roles on various committees, as well as represent the council on outside bodies, were rubber-stamped.

One of the outside bodies is Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority – which is the name for the body that looks after what was previously known as the Brecon Beacons.

Powys has the largest representation on the authority, which is mostly located within the county.

Parts of the national park are also located in several other South and West Walian council areas.

Due to the situation, Powys is allowed to have six councillors on the authority with one each from Blaenau Gwent, Carmarthenshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen.

A further six members are chosen by the Welsh Government to make up the the national park’s 18 members.

Earlier this month, due to the re-branding, from the Brecon Beacons to Bannau Brycheiniog, and claims of left wing political bias, the Conservative group’s representative on the group, Councillor Iain McIntosh, resigned.

Head of legal and democratic services, Clive Pinney, read through the list of appointees to the national park authority and pointed out that there was one vacancy still to fill.

“The vacancy will be appointed by the Conservatives in due course,” said Mr Pinney.

But Conservative group leader Councillor Aled Davies said: “Nobody will be appointed to the national park.

“We’re very disappointed with Brecon Beacons National Park telling local people how to run their businesses and also the terrible video that was produced a few weeks ago.”

The “terrible video” Councillor Davies alluded to, was the one from April, when the name change was announced.

The film clip has one of Wales’ most well-known actors, Michael Sheen, explaining the name change to Bannau Brycheiniog.

Councillor Davies said: “On top of that, the political balance of the authority isn’t right, I’m afraid this needs to be sorted out very quickly.”

Former national park authority chairman and current deputy chairman, Liberal Democrat councillor Gareth Ratcliffe, responded to the criticism.

Councillor Ratcliffe said: “The national park is politically balanced through this authority and the other councils which is set in statute.

“The comments that it’s not politically balanced are inaccurate.”

Council chairwoman, Councillor Beverley Baynham, said that she would note the comments and “not enter a debate” on the issue.

The five councillors that will represent Powys at Bannau Brycheiniog are: Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe – Liberal Democrat; Councillor William Powell – Liberal Democrat; Councillor Edwin Roderick – Independent group; Councillor Ed Jones – Independents for Powys; Councillor Huw Williams – Labour.