Local elections: Powys County Council boss loses seat to Lib Dem with power in the balance

A late flurry of wins for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Montgomeryshire has left the power balance in Powys County Council on a knife edge.

Councillor Jackie Charlton
Councillor Jackie Charlton

One dramatic result saw the independent leader of the council, Rosemarie Harris, lose out to Lib Dem Jackie Charlton.

The Lib Dems are the largest party but with 24 councillors returned they are well short of the 35 they would need for a majority.

The Conservatives and all independent members - including Action for Powys and non-aligned members - between them have gained 31 seats,

In the final few results the Conservatives took Caersws, Guilsfield, Llandrinio, Llangyniew and Meifod through Jonathan Wilkinson and Trelystan and Trewern through Amanda Jenner. But the Liberal Democrats hit back in Newtown South and Central taking two seats via Kelly Healy and former Newtown Mayor David Selby and Welshpool Castle ward, Richard Church taking the seat.

Plaid Cymru, Labour and the Lib Dems have all grown their numbers in this election compared with the last, and there has been a Green party seat, after a victory in the newly-created Forden and Montgomery ward for Jeremy Thorp.

Negotiations will need to take place but, change is certain following the loss of the leader and several former key cabinet members.

Powys’ first female leader, Rosemarie Harris, lost out in Llangynidr with Llangattock to Liberal Democrat Jackie Charlton - who stood in another ward at the last election.

Rosemarie said: “It was a great campaign by the Liberal Democrats, a local school closure and a desire for change on the council as issues which had impacted on me.” Boundary changes also played a part - Llangynidr and Llangattock had previously been one ward before being merged.

Rosemarie Harris

Jackie polled 541 votes to Rosemarie’s 455.

Jackie said: “I am very happy. I am really pleased and really, really grateful to the people of Llangattock and Llangynidr because they are the ones that put me here.”

Other cabinet members who also lost their places included the political architect of the schools transformation, Phyl Davies.

Education has been one of the key issues in this election and the shake-up of schools has been very controversial.

In his place will be Gareth Morgan and Glyn Preston, both Liberal Democrats. At 22, Glyn may be the youngest member of Powys County Council since re-organisation in 1995.

Plaid Cymru’s first victory came when Bryn Davies took Banwy, Llanfihangel and Llanwddyn. He covered the Llanwyddyn ward in the last council. Plaid’s group leader Elwyn Vaughan was returned unopposed.

But it meant that cabinet member Myfanwy Alexander lost out, as her ward had been merged with that of Mr Davies.

In the Ithon Valley, former councillors Martin Weale and Rachel Powell lost out to Independent Geoff Morgan.

There was success for some key former members.

The Liberal Democrat group leader James Gibson-Watt was re-elected for Glasbury, and stands a chance of becoming the council leader.

In Presteigne, the former chairman of Powys County Council, Beverley Baynham retained her seat with a healthy majority; Aled Davies, the Conservative leader and finance portfolio holder, retained his Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant/Llansilin seat unopposed.

Former cabinet member Iain McIntosh also returns. After resigning from the cabinet over school closures in the Brecon area, he remained a Conservative Party member and saw off the Lib Dem challenge to win Yscir with Honddu Isaf and Llanddew.

Heulwen Hulme, the environment portfolio holder, also won as Independent councillor for Rhiwcynon.

The former assistant vice chairman of Powys County Council and former Llandrindod Wells Mayor, Jon Williams was not so lucky. He was beaten by Liberal Democrat Jake Berriman in Llandrindod North.

The Liberal Democrats also snapped up the two seats in Llandrindod South – courtesy of Pete Roberts and Josie Ewing.

Kath Roberts-Jones lost out to Conservative newcomer Benjamin Breeze in Kerry but Machynlleth veteran Michael Williams retained his seat.

Powys’ former High Sheriff Peter James will represent Llanwrtyd Wells taking over from Colonel Tim Van Rees, Jeremy Pugh will represent Builth Wells for a second term as will Angelique Williams in Knighton but she will be joined in the new ward by Corinna Kenyon-Wade.

Welsh Labour secured all four seats in Brecon, Susan McNicholas and Sandra Davies retained their seats inYnyscedwyn and Cwm-twrch and after taking seats in Aber-craf and Ystradgynlais, they secured more members than in 2017, when they had seven seats.

The seat for Llangunllo with Norton went to independent candidate Deb Edwards, the first result declared was for Liberal Democrat Angela Davies elected for Rhayader in the seat previously held by Kelvyn Curry.

The Welshpool Gungrog ward, occupied by Francesca Jump until this election, was handed over to another Liberal Democrat, Carol Robinson.

The Conservative Gareth Pugh held onto Dolforwyn, while Peter Lewis retained his Llanfyllin seat.

Meanwhile, there will be no overall majority party in the council that runs north Wales' biggest town.

The independents lost overall control in Wrexham, after losing five seats.

Plaid tripled its 2017 success with nine seats while Labour gained three and the Conservatives down three.

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