By-election could deliver first female majority council in Wales
Twm Owen, local democracy reporter
Voters will go to the polls next week in a by-election which could lead to the first female majority council in Wales.
Monmouthshire County Council and the Vale of Glamorgan become the first councils in Wales with an equal split of female and male councillors following May’s local government elections.
But a by-election in Monmouthshire could see the 46-member council become the first with more women than men elected to it.
There are five candidates standing in the Devauden by-election, and history will be made if either the Conservative candidate or the Green Party hopeful are elected as both parties have selected female candidates. Should they win there would be 24 women serving on the authority.
Monmouthshire was the toss of a coin away from achieving the feat in May when Labour candidate Bryony Nicholson and Conservative Tomos Davies both received exactly 679 votes.
That meant a toss of the coin had to decide who would represent Llanfoist Fawr and Govilon. Ms Nicholson called heads and the seat was taken by Mr Davies who had correctly called tails.
The coin toss also meant Labour was deprived of winning exactly half of the seats in the chamber which had been the only Conservative majority council in Wales.
The by-election has however presented Labour, which formed a minority administration after the elections, the chance to solidify their command at County Hall by boosting its 22 strong group to 23, holding exactly half of the seats.
Rachel Buckler is defending the seat for the Conservatives with the by-election having come about due to the death, in August, of former council deputy leader Bob Greenland, who won in May with 318 votes, 49 per cent of all those cast.
Labour came second in May and has this time selected Chepstow town councillor Jim MacTaggart for the crunch election.
The other female candidate is the Green Party’s Emily Fairman and, though the Greens currently have one member on the council, who sits with the Independent Group, they could form an alliance with Labour with a greater presence in the chamber.
Former Monmouth Conservative AM Nick Ramsey is standing for the Liberal Democrats while Ed Webb is standing as an independent.
The election takes place on Thursday, October 20 and polls will be open from 7am to 10pm.
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