Two groups of Independent councillors have decided to merge and create the biggest opposition group on Powys County Council.

Talks have been going on behind the scenes between the Independent group and the Independents for Powys group.

And today (Friday) the councillors announced they had joined forces to form the Powys Independents group.

Two non-aligned councillors – Cllr Deb Edwards who represents Llangunllo with Norton and Cllr Geoff Morgan who represents Ithon Valley – have also moved to the new enlarged group.

This takes the group’s numbers up to 15 councillors, which sees them overtake the Conservatives to become the biggest opposition group on the council.

The Powys Independent group said: “The announcement follows a series of meetings between the two groups and non-aligned members in the past few weeks with the merger coming into effect ahead of the council’s annual meeting on May 16.

“Cllr Ange Williams and Cllr Beverley Baynham will be joint leaders of the new group, with Cllr Baynham taking on her new duties when she completes her term of office as chairwoman of Powys County Council on May 16.”

Until then Cllr Graham Breeze will be interim group leader.

Cllr Williams said: “I am really looking forward to working as one group.

“We are all singing from the same page and want the same things for our communities.

“I feel very privileged to be joint leader with Cllr Baynham and for the group to have put their faith in me.

“Looking forward, we hope to help make a real difference to the running of Powys and challenging the ruling groups to help get the right outcomes, but our own communities will always come first.”

Cllr Breeze said: “We are all fiercely proud to have been elected by our residents as independent councillors and as one group we will offer a much stronger challenge to the current ruling administration which will be to the benefit of the people of Powys.”

This formation of the new group could also see changes being made to who controls the appointment of committee chairs at the council in the new civic year.

The new group leaders could also take over the opportunity to speak at Cabinet meetings from Conservative group leader Cllr Aled Davies – who will no longer be the opposition leader.

A council spokesman said: “There is nothing in the council’s constitution that gives the right for the opposition leader to speak at cabinet, that is up to the discretion of the chairman (council leader).

“This will have an impact on the allocations and appointments to the relevant committees – a report ready for next week’s annual meeting is being finalised.

“Each individual non-scrutiny committee appoint their own chair – this will be done in the first committee after the annual meeting takes place.”

This leaves the make-up of the council at:

Minority Administration

Liberal Democrats – 22.

Labour – 9.

Green Party – 1.

Opposition groups

Powys Independents group – 15

Conservatives – 14.

Plaid Cymru – 3.

Non-affiliated councillors – 3.

And one vacancy – a by-election is taking place on June 4 to elect a new councillor for the Rhiwcynon ward.

Total = 68