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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK
Goodway resigns as leader
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The former Lord Mayor of Cardiff Russell Goodway has resigned as Labour group leader of the council as fall-out from the local election results continues across Wales.

Members of Cardiff council's Labour group met last night to choose a new leader - Llandaff councillor Greg Owens - after they failed to hold on to control of the authority.

Politicians across Wales have been involved in key talks after the local elections left nine councils with no party in overall control.

They were Bridgend, Cardiff, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Swansea, Vale of Glamorgan, Wrexham and Denbighshire.

Elsewhere, Labour lost Swansea and Bridgend, but won back Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf from Plaid Cymru.

The Conservatives took Monmouthshire council while the Liberal Democrats were the biggest winners in terms of new seats - gaining 48 in all.

Labour councillors held a crisis meeting in Cardiff on Friday night after Mr Goodway held onto his Ely seat by just 62 votes. The party suffered widescale defeats at the hands of the Liberal Democrats.

Councillor gains and losses
Labour: - 57
Lib Dems: + 48
Plaid Cymru: - 12
Conservatives: + 35
Independents: + 16
People Before Politics: + 9
Forward Wales: + 1

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Goodway likened his situation to that of John Major following the outcome of the 1997 General Election, borrowing the phrase :"When the curtain falls, it's time to move off the stage".

Mr Goodway served on Labour's front bench for 16 years - the past 12 as council leader.

"During that time Cardiff Council has been responsible for the transformation of the city into one of Europe's most exciting capitals, providing jobs and opportunities for local people and a level of prosperity not seen for 100 years," Mr Goodway said.

"I have enjoyed every single minute," he added.

New leader Mr Owens said he was pleased to be taking over, but added : "These are challenging times for us - we have lost seats and valued colleagues, but we are by far the biggest opposition group and the Liberal Democrats have not got an overall majority. We shall re-focus and we aim to provide incisive, effective opposition.

The political landscape in local government might have changed considerably but First Minister Rhodri Morgan was not having the blame for Labour's poor showing laid at his door

Russell Goodway
Mr Goodway held on to his seat with just 62 votes
Senior party figures said the first minister's absence from D-Day commemorations last weekend was a factor.

Describing the results as "patchy and weird", Mr Morgan said he would be the "first to put his hand up" if it was shown Labour did worse in Wales than England. But he did not believe that was the case.

Labour lost 13 councillors in Swansea, where the council had faced a barrage of criticism over the closure of the city's leisure centre.

In Wrexham the Forward Wales party founded by former Labour AM and MP John Marek won its first seat, but failed to make a bigger breakthrough, although Labour lost control.

Who controls Welsh councils?
Labour: 8 (Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Flintshire, Merthyr, Neath-Port Talbot, Newport, RCT, Torfaen)
Independents: 3 (Anglesey, Pembrokeshire, Powys)
Plaid Cymru: 1 (Gwynedd)
Conservatives: 1 (Monmouth)
No overall control: 9 (Bridgend, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Swansea, Vale of Glamorgan, Wrexham, )

The Vale of Glamorgan remained under no overall control, but the Tories were still the biggest party.

Despite Labour's problems in Cardiff and Swansea, its landslide performance in RCT may have been one of its best throughout the UK.

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said Labour had "taken a hit", and accepted that Mr Morgan's D-Day absence was an issue.

But Mr Hain also blamed other factors - among them Iraq and council taxes.

With figures in from 17 of the 22 councils, turnout was 45% - higher than expected with Thursday's fine weather thought to have played a part.

In Ceredigion, Plaid gained three seats, and the result will mean weekend negotiations about possible coalitions to take control of the council.

The Independent group and the Liberal Democrats had run Ceredigion, and the new result follows a turbulent few months which saw campaigners lose their battle for a directly-elected mayor in the county.

  Councillors Councils  
PARTY +/- TOT +/- TOT  
After 22 of 22 councils

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