Two top Conservative councillors lost their seats in Abergavenny at Thursday’s local elections as the Labour party celebrated a massive swing winning 22 seats, an increase of 12 while their Tory rivals lost 12.
Sheila Woodhouse lost her seat in Grofield, Abergavenny to Labour candidate Laura Wright, whilst Jane Pratt narrowly lost her Llanelly Hill seat by just nine votes to Labour’s Mary Ann Brocklesby, the new leader of the Labour group on Monmouthshire County Council.
County councillor Brocklesby said: “This is an exciting day for Monmouthshire.
‘‘We have run a dynamic, positive campaign based around local issues and we are delighted to be the largest party in Monmouthshire.
‘‘Time and again residents told us on the doorstep that they wanted change, that they didn’t feel they were being listened to and that they felt let down.
We will now work hard to build a stronger, fairer, greener Monmouthshire that strives to protect residents from the cost-of-living crisis and deal with the climate emergency.
Labour Leader for Monmouthshire County Council, Mary Ann Brocklesby
Abergavenny Mayor Tudor Thomas was successfully reinstated as county councillor for the Park ward, increasing his share of the votes from the previous elections in 2017.
He said: “I’d like to thank the people of the Park ward for their continuing support and for placing their faith in me once again.”
‘‘The outcome of the elections at both County and Town level were much better for Labour than I expected.
‘‘There had been rumours but no firm evidence that the Conservative Party across the county would suffer some losses.
‘‘In Park, my ward, I was impressed by the high level of support I received - a majority of 372 over the Conservative candidate.
‘‘In 2017 I won in Park with a majority of only three!
On a dramatic day in Monmouthshire, former council leader Richard John admitted that it had been a “difficult” day for the Conservatives.
The Conservatives lost control of their only majority-held council in Wales, although leader Richard John comfortably retained his county council seat in Mitchel Troy and Trellech, and was joined as councillor for the ward by fellow Conservative Jayne McKenna.
He said: “I’m very pleased and humbled to witness the support of the people of Mitchel Troy and am delighted to be working alongside Jane who has campaigned and canvassed tirelessly.
‘‘I’m grateful to other candidates also for a clean and fair campaign.”
“As council leader over the last five years I have had a fantastic team behind me and I am very proud of the achievements of the ‘Class of 2017’ in not only working hard for our constituents but also in improving the diversity of our council, and our work in achieving gender parity amongst our candidates.”
On the Conservative performance in Monmouthshire, he added: “It has been a difficult day.
‘‘What I have heard from voters on their doorsteps is that they have valued the work done by our council, and have recognised our work on issues such as climate change, better pay for social care workers and improvements on leisure facilities for children.
‘‘However what I have also heard is that voters are frustrated with national issues concerning the Conservative government.
The public have sent a very clear message throughout the UK, that the Conservative party have to reflect upon.
Conservative Leader for Monmouthshire, Richard John
Member of the Senedd Peter Fox was also present at the count in Chepstow.
Mr Fox previously worked a councillor for the ward of Portskewett under the Conservative administration, but decided against standing for re-election in the ward.
His seat remained Conservative held however as Lisa Dymock was elected councillor for Portskewett.
Following the vote, he said: “It is a bitter-sweet day for me. I finished my career on the council and am sad to be leaving but I am very pleased that Lisa has taken on my seat and know she will do an amazing job for the people of Portskewett.
Reflecting on the overall performance of the Conservative party, Peter said: “Today has been a bitter blow and I’m disappointed with the outcome.
“We have had a great team in Monmouthshire over the last few years that have worked tirelessly for the county, and it is just disappointing that things nationally that are out of control have had such an impact.
“There will be a lot of soul-searching over the next few days, and there is a real need for councillors to come together and conversations will have to be had about how things move forward from here.”
Speaking on Friday after the dramatic results were announced Labour’s County councillor Martyn Groucutt said: “The new Labour-dominated council will work hand in glove with the Labour government in Cardiff.
‘‘We will take this responsibility seriously and we will create a reinvigorated county council, one that rules in the name of all of the people of Monmouthshire
“The detailed planning for our victory this afternoon started back in January when a group got together to form the manifesto.
‘‘From that group came a manifesto that we will stand by for the next five years, it is a manifesto for change and fairness
“There is so much that needs to be addressed in the name of fairness and equality and Labour will do that”
There was late drama as one of the final wards to be declared went down to a coin toss after two candidates received the exact same number of votes.
With two seats available in the ward of Llanfoist Fawr and Govilon, Welsh Labour candidate Ben Callard was elected with 727 votes, but there was nothing to split candidates Tomos Dafydd Davies (Conservatives) and Bryony Nicholson (Labour) who each received 679 votes, with Tomos Dafydd Davies being elected by the toss of a coin and joining Callard as county councillor.
Bryony Nicholson, the Welsh Labour candidate who dramatically lost out on the coin toss for the ward of Llanfoist Fawr and Govilon, said: “I’m gutted. I’m obviously pleased for Ben Callard, we have been friends for a long time and have worked very hard canvassing and campaigning together”
On the coin toss, she added: “I’m just in shock at the moment, it really hammers home how every vote matters and days like today prove just how important everyone’s vote is.”
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