Progressive Lib Dem Labour Partnership takes helm in Powys

Powys County Council is to be led by the Welsh Liberal Democrats for the first time since its creation, in a partnership with Welsh Labour. Previous administrations have been led by independents.

James Gibson-Watt, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Powys Council, was elected as Leader of the Council at the Council’s AGM this morning, becoming the first Welsh Liberal Democrat Council leader since 2012.

The agreement between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Labour will focus on delivering a fresh and distinctive path to meet the serious challenges the county faces. A Green Party councillor is expected to join the partnership.

James Gibson-Watt said:

This looks set to be a historic moment for the County of Powys. Not since the county’s formation has it been run by anyone other than the independents in one form or another.

The elections in May 2022 saw a huge change to the composition of Powys County Council. Progressive parties all gained seats, demonstrating a desire from the electorate for Powys County Council to change direction, culture and values.

It is now the intention of myself and the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group to work with the Welsh Labour group to deliver this change in direction and drive the drastic improvement Powys Council needs.

While there are differences between our parties, we find that there is much on which we agree that gives us a firm foundation for a shared administration that builds a stronger, fairer and greener future for our county.

I’m excited to get on with the job and start delivering for the people of Powys.

The political balance on the council after the May elections is:

  • Liberal Democrat: 24
  • Independent: 17
  • Conservative: 14
  • Labour: 9
  • Plaid Cymru: 3
  • Green 1.

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  • Brad Barrows 26th May '22 - 5:32pm

    Lib Dem/Lab/Green just gets to 34 councillors – exactly half of the 68. I trust efforts are being made to include Plaid Cymru as 37, 31 would make for a secure majority.

  • @Brad Barrows – Why focus on 3 PC councillors when there are 17 Independents? I trust our local team on the ground know what they’re doing. My suspicion is that some of the Indys will have quietly offered arms-length support to the administration. I don’t know, but like I say, I trust our local group to get it right. As I do everywhere.

  • Brad Barrows 26th May '22 - 6:48pm

    A perfectly fair question. Perhaps I am coloured by own experience where almost every ‘independent’ councillor is, in practice, a Tory. At least Plaid Cymru is known to be on the progressive wing of the spectrum.

  • Richard Church 26th May '22 - 9:36pm

    James Gibson-Watt, Leader of the Lib Dem Group was elected as the leader of Powys Council today with 54 votes, out of 68 councillors elected, so he obviously won votes way beyond the Lib Dem and Labour groups. Some independent councillors are Tories, some are not, but it’s wise not to make judgements on them, Plaid, or anyone else without knowing the local circumstances. What matters is that for the first time Powys Council is led by a cabinet (of which I am a part), with a clear political programme published for anyone to read The domination of Powys Council by Independents, who never speak to a common political purpose and vision is over.

  • Mick Taylor 27th May '22 - 6:47am

    I do wish writers on Lib Dem Voice would eschew the use of the word ‘Progressive’. My 50 plus years of experience of working with Labour is the they are almost never progressive and often deeply conservative, especially at local government level. Since they have a deep loathing of Liberal Democrats, who they see as Labour mark 2 and as we saw in 2010 are totally unbelieving when we don’t fulfil their incorrect analysis and side with them on every occasion.
    I wisher colleagues leading the new administration in Powys well. It reminds to be seen if they are able to deliver the change that area needs.

  • Andy Boddington 27th May '22 - 7:41am

    @Mick Taylor. The team in Wales is calling it a Progressive Partnership. You will have to take the issue up with them not us.

  • Andy Boddington. I was making a more general point. Our colleagues in Powys will of course make their own decisions. Some people in our party, who have never had to work with the Labour Party (especially in the big cities) still hold to the misguided belief that Labour are somehow progressive.
    I think that people who write for LibDem Voice and who prepare press releases really ought to be much more circumspect about using the word ‘progressive’. It may be that after the next GE, we may have to come to some accommodation with Labour, but if we start that by assuming that Starmer and his pals are progressive, then grief will follow.

  • I agree with Mick. Labour especially at local level are often anything but ‘ progressive’.

  • Pete Roberts 27th May '22 - 11:34am

    Mick, the two groups have been working together in opposition to an independent led (Ind/Con) administration over the past 5 years which has been highly secretive in respect of their own back benches never mind the electorate.

    During the campaign our 2 parties followed a model very similar to the national position in 97.

    I have seen other comments about other groupings but to put it in context there are now 2 Indie groups of 6 with others non aligned. One of these groups has at least two Abolish the Welsh Assembly supporters in it and the other is the rump of the previous ruling group.

    Yes, its on paper a casting vote administration but in reality as long as we are sensible we should be able to deliver a coherent programme of governance. James only had 1 vote against with 7 abstentions in the vote for Leader.

  • Gwyn Williams 27th May '22 - 11:50am

    I agree that many Labour Council groups cannot be described as progressive. However this is Powys. In the 49 years since the Council was formed it has been run by various Independent coalitions. In rural Wales this has meant that the Council’s officials have been responsible for the development of countywide policies. Inevitably this has meant that change only happens when it is driven by the need to comply with legal requirements and professional standards. It is a deeply conservative environment which resists change. A Progressive Alliance has to be judged against this background.

  • Andy Boddington 27th May '22 - 1:46pm

    I don’t think we will restrict the word progressive or be circumspect about its use. It’s heavy use on LDV is down to the authors and news originators. Alliances are a big debate here. Some people shun them. Some long for them. And some see then as practical solution local issues. Let the debate continue.

  • Brad Barrows 27th May '22 - 6:30pm

    @Mick Taylor
    I, for one, would never describe as ‘progressive’ any party that would be willing to support the Tories in power and help them deliver so many of their policies. I trust the disaster of 2010-15 will never be repeated and the Liberal Democrats will never again betray its progressive identity for a small share of the trappings of power.

  • @ Brad Barrows Spot on there, Brad.

  • Although Andy Boddington is technically correct when he says “The team in Wales is calling it a Progressive Partnership. You will have to take the issue up with them not us,” there is no opportunity for many of us to take up such lax use of language with the Welsh party, or any other part of the party, except through LDV.

    The problem with the term progressive is that it has no meaning. It seems to be nothing more than an umbrella term coving lots of wishful thinking about Labour in most of its guises (especially the powerful ones), the SNP, many of the Greens, plus a number of Lib Dems who really should know better than to jump on the bandwagon.

    Indeed its only coherence is that they all despise Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, but then, Who doesn’t?

  • Peter Hirst 30th May '22 - 3:21pm

    This is wonderful news. I do hope however that the opportunity to increase Lib Dem popularity and representation on the council is not missed. We must realise that Labour’s main objective, at least in England is to further their political ambitions possibly at the expense of ours.

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