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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK
Gains for Plaid in Ceredigion
Penri James
Penri James' Plaid group is the largest
A successful night for Plaid Cymru saw the party becoming the largest party on Ceredigion Council by a single seat.

But the authority will be under no overall control again and talks on possible coalitions will have to be held.

Former leader, (Independent) Dai Lloyd Evans has hinted he will stand down after nine years leading the authority.

And Councillor Penri James, leader of Plaid, said his party will review the controversial plan to build 4,900 houses.

Ceredigion does need a fresh start and the people of the county have said that by making us the largest group
Penri James, Plaid Cymru

That plan had led to a campaign for a directly-elected mayor for Ceredigion, something which Plaid Cymru had opposed because it argued that too much power would be in the hands of one person.

And when the proposal for a directly-elected mayor was put to a referendum, electors in Ceredigion voted against it.

The former council leader, Dai Lloyd Evans has said he will meet the other Independents at 1900 BST on Friday to discuss the way forward.

"It looks as though Plaid Cymru is the largest group, but we will have to look at the situation and discuss with the leaders of other parties and make a decision," he said.

"But as it looks as though I'm no longer the leader of the largest group, it may be that I will no longer be leader."

He said: "It was as I expected, we had fewer candidates this year we lost eightof our former members and we had great difficulty in contesting those seats."

Ceredigion result
Plaid Cymru 16
Independents 15
Liberal Democrats 9
Labour 1
Non-aligned Independent 1

He said the Independent candidate came very close in Tregaron with a margin of just 34 votes.

And he said the party was pleased to take the Capel Dewi ward and to see Mair Morris take the newly-divided Cardigan ward from former Plaid member John Adams-Lewis.

The former leader said standing orders mean he will have to step down but said he thought the Liberal Democrats and Independents would be in favour of retaining him as leader - if he chooses to stay.

"It is something I will have to think about and make a decision by the end of the day."

Mr James, when asked if he would be the next council leader, said: "It's a matter of wait and see.

"We put 35 candidates and it looks as though we've won 16 seats and that's an increase of six on the last election. We are the largest group in the county council which was one of our aims.

"There's no overall control and we must remember that's what the people of Ceredigion wanted, but we'll have to wait and see what happens during the next few days.

"Ceredigion does need a fresh start and the people of the county have said that by making us the largest group."

Housing plan

Mr Evans said the controversial housing plan was welcomed by many people he saw when he was canvassing.

"People accept what the position is as far as the UDP is concerned. People have been telling me there is a need to ensure enough affordable houses and the opportunity is there."

He said a public inquiry, planned for December, will proceed.

But Mr James said their mandate is to review the plan.

"If this was a referendum on Dai Lloyd Evans he has lost six seats from his Independent group, that's a third of his group," he said.

The turnout in the county was high, 53%.

Simon Brooks, of Llais Ceredigion, which had been influential in the Yes campaign for mayor in the county, said voters would feel 'betrayed' by Plaid Cymru after the party failed to win outright control of the council.

"That's why voters moved across to the No campaign for mayor because Plaid Cymru assured them that they would win control of the council when they really knew they couldn't.

"Voters will feel betrayed and devastated by Plaid Cymru for leading up this winding path."

The independents remained in control of Powys council, with a total of 52 seats, with 17 Liberals.

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