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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006, 07:03 GMT
Labour U-turn ends era at council
Powys Council's headquarters
Powys is believed to be the last non-political council in the UK
Four Labour councillors have performed a U-turn - on a previous U-turn - and formed Powys Council's first political group.

Powys is believed to be the UK's last non-political local authority, but last week Labour councillors said they intended to form a group.

However, they changed their minds after some party members raised doubts.

These problems have now been resolved and Labour has declared its intention to alter Powys' political landscape.

On Monday, the party's leader on the council, Sandra Davies, said although some members had expressed doubts she remained committed to the group system.

Since 1974, councillors' independence in Powys has meant they have not had to toe a party line when voting.

Gareth Morgan
On their heads be it if they spoil this cohesive, friendly, responsive council
Councillor Gareth Morgan

Some council members claim this non-confrontational approach has made for transparent debate and clarity, and is the envy of other local authorities.

Liberal Democrat Gareth Morgan, who sits on the council's ruling board and is opposed to political groups, said he found the Labour councillors' decision "illogical".

"The question is, have they (Labour councillors) been coerced from the outside to take this step," he added.

Rules

"If they were a force to be reckoned with I could understand it, but they are nothing more than a minor irritant."

He added: "On their heads be it if they spoil this cohesive, friendly, responsive council. They will have to accept the consequences from the electorate."

In response, Labour councillor Gwyn Gwillim said Labour rules meant they had to form a group.

He added: "It's not the case that we've been coerced to take this step, but we are the only Labour councillors in the UK who are not part of a group. Labour Party rules say we have to form a group."

Labour's declaration could prompt the Liberal Democrats to form their own band of up to 24 members, but it is unclear if the independents, Conservatives or Plaid Cymru will also form groups.




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