Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bit of Turbulence at Powys Council

I take an interest in the politics of Powys County Council - partly because I know quite a few of the Cllrs. We need to consider some background. For many years Powys CC was made up of mostly 'Independent' cllrs, led by Cllr Michael Jones from Radnorshire. Then a few years ago, the Council split into 'political groups' which effectively ended the concept of the 'Independent' cllrs in any meaningful sense. A Conservative Group came into being, to join the Labour and Lib Dem Groups -  and the 'Independents' split into 2 groups, the 'Montgomeryshire Independents' and the 'Powys Independents' - (more to do with 'personality' than 'policy'!) The Council was 'managed' by a 'Board' of 15 - chosen in proportion to the size of the various groups. Then just over a year ago, the 'Powys Independents' and the Lib Dems voted through the adoption of a 'Cabinet' system - and formed a coalition to run the Council. Perhaps they assumed this arrangement would carry on for ever. And through all this Cllr Michael Jones stood proudly at the helm. Then we had May's Council election. Big change.

Labour gained seats, Conservatives gained a seat, and the Lib Dems/Powys Ind. lost ground. Leader of the Montgomeryshire Independents (now called the 'Shires Independents), Cllr. David Jones from Guilsfield was elected Leader. He won the votes of everyone except the Lib Dems and Powys Independents'. It was enough. This was 'seismic' - and has led to a total change. Great for me because I've known David for 40 yrs. He was Cllr. for Guilsfield when I was Montgomeryshire Council Chairman 1985-1988. In my opinion, he's made a terrific start.

Unsurprisingly there's been a bit of turbulence in the Powys Independents - coming to terms with 'opposition'. From here on I'm depending on hearsay. Please correct me where I'm awry. It seems there's been a bit of pressure to have a leadership election, which came to a head this week. After decision to hold an election, I'm told that Michael decided , with some drama, to leave the group to become an 'unaligned' cllr.. I'm also told he left blasting on two particular cllrs. for behaving in a way which had led to the Group's defeat. No names, but both are from Montgomeryshire. Where it goes from here, I have no idea. I'm told that favourites to replace Michael Jones as leader of the Powys Independents are Cllrs Geraint Hopkins and Evan Morgan. Whether anyone else will desert the group we do not yet know. This is an ongoing situation. I also suspect I'm the only citizen of Powys who finds this interesting.


Roy Norris said...


It just shows that when in opposition no-one outside the group really cares a great deal what shenanigans the party or group get up to.

But I'd recall any councillor who claims to be independent and then goes off to join a group of so-called independents. They should be clear with their electorate over their status.

Sarah Jones said...

Well there is one Powys resident who finds it interesting, me!! Since moving to Powys 6 years ago I have been shocked by the way in which the council has conducted itself, both in terms of its councillors and its staff (particularly when it comes to educational matters and policy).

It's about time there was a change to shake things up. I'm interested, in particular, to see how Myfanwy Alexander will fare with her education portfolio. She made a good start at a meeting about Powys' ridiculous proposed changes to school transport in Llanfyllin High School last night, but it's early days, so we shall see...

Glyn Davies said...

Roy/Sarah - It seems there arte three of us with an interest anyway. I agree Roy - it was just not right that Gareth Ratcliffe was elected as a Conservative and immediately jumped ship to the Shire's Independents in order to take a Cabinet post. But I also think he's an able man who will bring quality to the Cabinet. And Sarah - I agree that Myfanwy had made a fantastic start making decisions for herself and not just following officer guidance. I think Barry Thomas and Graham Brown have started well also - same reason. Also agree its early days.