Powys council could get its first woman leader

By Twm Owen in Local People

An independent councillor from Breconshire is the favourite to become the new leader of Powys council.

Rosemarie Harris, who represents the Llangynidr ward, has been elected as leader of the newly created Independent Group and is in pole position to become leader of the council. If elected leader she will become the first woman to lead the authority.

The full council meets for the first time, since the May 4 elections, at County Hall, Llandrindod Wells at 10.30am on Thursday morning. All 72 councillors will have the chance to vote for the new leader of the council.

All 30 independent councillors are members of the new Independent Group and it is the first time all the independent members of Powys council have agreed to work together as one group.

Cllr Harris said she is still holding talks with all the other groups over a possible deal that could see her pick members of the political parties in her 10 member cabinet.

Alternatively the independent group could govern as a minority administration - but would run the risk of losing votes in the full council.

Cllr Harris said: "I would like to make an arrangement with another group.

Being a minority administration is a very shaky situation. To make sure we’re sustainable for five years and make the right decisions for Powys we need to be a good strong group."

The councillor, who’d been a member of the previous cabinet with responsibility for property, said she was pleased to have brought all the independents tougher.

Previously independent councillors had split into three different groups but the local election results meant for the first time independents were in a minority on the council.

By agreeing to work together the independents have ensured they are the largest group on the council.

Cllr Harris said: "I have to say there is a great willingness to work together. It has to be recognised many of them are new members and many have got business backgrounds and experience to bring to the table and are very keen to work as one group.

"It’s going to be incumbent on me to keep them together and keep them informed so we can all work together. We’ve got enough challenges facing us."

The Conservatives, with 19 councillors, are the second largest group and largest political party while the Liberal Democrats have 13 members and Labour seven. Brecon St John Councillor Matthew Dorrance has been elected leader of the Labour group.

Plaid Cymru’s two members and the Green Party’s only councillor have also agreed to work together as one group.

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