Talks begin over Powys County Council coalition

Liberal Democrats expect coalition partners to be finalised by annual council meeting.

By Elgan Hearn   |   Local democracy reporter   |
Monday 9th May 2022 7:04 pm
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Powys Labour leader Matthew Dorrance and Lib Dem leader James Gibson-Watt
Powys Labour leader Matthew Dorrance and Lib Dem leader James Gibson-Watt (LDRS )

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By the time the Powys County Council annual general meeting (AGM) comes round later this month, residents will know the make-up of the ruling administration.

By then it seems likely that the new coalition made up of Liberal Democrats, Labour and a few others will have been finalised.

Probable council leader and Liberal Democrat group leader the biggest group at Powys, Cllr James Gibson-Watt confirmed that discussion with potential coalition partners are taking place but did not want to give too much away at the moment.

Cllr Gibson-Watt said: “Negotiations are underway and I’m confident that we’ll be able to form an administration in good time for the AGM.

“I’d rather keep it confidential for the moment, but I do think we’ll be able to put together a very good administration.”

Cllr Gibson-Watt did confirm that the Conservative group would not be part of the administration as they are “too far apart on too many things”.

“It wouldn’t work on either side, ” said Cllr Gibson-Watt.

Cllr Gibson-Watt added that there would be a Lib Dem group meeting on Monday night to further discuss the situation.

Labour group leader Cllr Matthew Dorrance said: “I have spoken to James; discussions are ongoing and there’s more work to do – we plan to talk again.

“It is hoped we will have a functioning administration by the annual meeting.”

With Labour likely to bring nine councillors to the coalition the figures go up to 33 of 68 councillors, tantalisingly short of an outright majority.

To get to the magic number of 35, it is expected that the Lib Dems will ask the Green Party’s new councillor, Jeremy Thorp to come on board.

But getting any more councillors to join them will depend on what happens to the bloc of 17 independent councillors that were voted on to the council.

It is expected that the 17 will fragment into smaller groups – one of which would join the coalition.

Powys Conservative group leader, Cllr Aled Davies, said: “I’m not expecting to be part of the cabinet in the near future.

“I have congratulated James (Gibson-Watt) and I am a bit worried with what the Liberal Democrats promised on the campaign trail and that it will be impossible to realise, and I want to make sure schools will get the investment they need.

“We did reasonably well in Montgomeryshire we returned the same numbers that we had in 2017 and were one vote away from gaining another ward.

“The performance in Brecon and Radnorshire was disappointing with only one member being elected, but the Independent group received the biggest hit.”

“We want to be a constructive opposition and will be working to make sure the people of Powys receive improving and the best services possible.”

The annual meeting is penciled into the council calendar for Thursday, May 26.

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