Labour Party suffers ‘bloody nose’ in Bridgend as it loses overall control

The Labour Party has suffered “a bloody nose” in Bridgend where it has lost overall control of the council.

Independent candidates in many guises and groups inflicted defeats in key areas but it was the Conservatives who came out of nowhere to cut Labour’s majority.

The party, which recently welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May to Brackla Community Centre, gained 10 seats to take them to a total of 11.

Labour have 26 out of a total of 54 seats, down from 31. They would have needed 28 seats to retain overall control.

In Brackla the Conservatives grabbed three out of the four seats available in the Labour stronghold, unseating cabinet member Hailey Townsend.

Conservative Alex Williams won Penprysg in Bridgend from Labour

Conservative Alex Williams won Penprysg in Bridgend from Labour

She had acted as First Minister and Bridgend AM Carwyn Jones’ campaign co-ordinator for the National Assembly elections last year.

And while Mr Jones had reciprocated by getting out onto the streets with other Labour big hitters, including Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon, to drum up support for Ms Townsend and other council candidates the party could not prevent the dramatic swing from red to blue.

From the look on his face and his decision not to do any interviews as the count got under way at the Bowls Hall in Bridgend on Thursday evening it seemed clear the First Minister knew how the night might go.

He had joined MP Ms Moon, and the Ogmore AM Huw Irranca-Davies and MP Chris Elmore, in the sports arena to provide moral support to party colleagues. But as the results started to come in thick and fast it became clear it was not going to be Labour’s night.

Madeleine Moon at the count in Bridgend

Madeleine Moon at the count in Bridgend
(Photo: Abby Bolter)

Plaid Cymru’s Tim Thomas took Ynysawdre from the party, which also lost seats to the Conservatives in Newcastle and Penprysg wards.

In Oldcastle the Conservatives gained two seats and worse was to come for Labour in Maesteg when former party stalwarts and now members of the Llynfi Independents, Keith Edwards and Ross Thomas, retained their seats in style, while fellow independent Tom Beedle also gained a seat. In the process two well-known Labour figures in Maesteg – husband and wife Ceri and Mal Reeves – were both unseated. Ceri had been a cabinet member.

Mr Thomas polled 1,167 votes – 425 more than Labour’s Richard Collins who got the other seat in Maesteg West.

He said the electorate had expressed their strength of feeling over his treatment and that of other former Labour members at the ballot box.

Both Mr Thomas and Mr Edwards failed Labour’s selection process for candidates last autumn after they had defied the party whip to vote against the Bridgend Labour leadership’s failed merger with the Vale of Glamorgan.

The pair, and other Labour councillors, subsequently resigned from the party.

Video thumbnail, Former Labour councillor on his win as an Independent


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Former Labour councillor on his win as an Independent

Mr Thomas said: “I am so privileged to be elected by the people of Maesteg West.

“I didn’t have a party machine behind me this time so to be elected on my own name and the fact that people have put their trust and faith in me as an individual is so humbling so thank you to the people of Maesteg West.

“It’s a little bit more than a bloody nose for the Labour Party and certainly I have seen that people are not happy with what’s going on locally and nationally and it’s a little bit more than a wake-up call.”

Bridgend council leader Huw David

Council leader Huw David won convincingly on the night

Labour’s group leader in Bridgend, and the last council’s leader, Huw David did win convincingly in Cefn Cribwr while the party also gained both seats in Morfa ward with Stuart Baldwin and Nicole Burnett.

An expected surge by independents standing under the Change for Bridgend banner failed to materialise although they polled respectably.

Owners of Ella Riley’s Traditional Sweets and leaders in the Change movement, husband and wife Steve and Freya Bletsoe, failed to gain seats in Morfa and Oldcastle, while group chairman Paul Warren lost out to Labour in Cefn Glas.

But the Porthcawl Independents performed well once again, retaining Porthcawl East and West with Brian Jones and Sean Aspey respectively. Nottage was held by Norah Clarke, a former Lib Dem who is now with the Porthcawl Independents, as is her husband Mike Clarke, who took Rest Bay off the Lib Dems. Newton was held by the Conservative’s Ken Watts.

Elsewhere in Bridgend independent Amanda Williams, of the Change for Bridgend group, has taken the Coity seat from independent Ella Dodd – an octogenarian who faced trolls in the campaign calling her too old to stand for election.

But the entire count in Bridgend, overseen by returning officer Darren Mepham, was dogged with difficulties overnight as technical problems prevented results being displayed on a big screen. Results were also read out simultaneously at different counting tables leaving politicians, reporters and officials struggling to keep count.

The official turnout figure was 39.86%.

Seats:

Labour: 26 (down from 31)

Independents: 13 (16)

Conservative: 11 (1)

Plaid Cymru: 3 (1)

Liberal Democrats: 1 (3)

Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/politics/labour-party-suffers-bloody-nose-12989539