Councillors continue talks over Neath Port Talbot coalition deal
Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter
The Labour party in Neath Port Talbot say they have opened up the door to talks with other parties this year, after results at the local 2022 elections saw them lose almost half of their seats.
Despite winning the most seats on Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (NPTCBC), Labour’s share of councillors nearly halved, going from 43 in the elections in 2017 to 25 in 2022.
It means the council for the area is currently left in a state of no control.
Plaid now hold 12 seats while the independents hold 18 seats in the area. It means that the two could potentially form a coalition in the area to take control of the council for the first time.
Speaking shortly after his election as Labour leader at the annual group meeting on Thursday May 19, Rob Jones said while there was a lot of talking left to do, Labour had opened the door to discussions.
He said: “I’m going to touch base with the former leader now to see how far any negotiations have progressed with other parties surrounding the no overall control issue in the borough.
“There are a number of groups that are on the council so there’s a lot of talking that needs to be done. Labour have opened up the door to the other political groups to enter in to discussions to resolve the no overall control issue.”
Last week Plaid Cymru group leader at NPTCBC, Alun Llewelyn, said they were also exploring the possibility of forming a coalition after Labour had lost their grip on power.
He said: “Plaid’s group of 12 councillors are eager to discuss a programme of policies to form a new progressive administration with independents and others in Neath Port Talbot.
“Among our priorities are reviewing schools closure policies, a valleys strategy, supporting small businesses in our town centres and better support for economic development. We also want to tackle environmental deterioration across Neath Port Talbot and ensure that street care and visible services are rapidly improved.
“I am confident that there is agreement on many of these issues among the current opposition members. That is why Plaid Cymru is eager to explore the possibility of creating a coalition for common good and we look forward to constructive and positive discussions over the next few weeks.”
Stephen Hunt, who is the new leader for the independent group, added that while he was excited about the future, there was a still a lot of talks and negotiations that had to happen before any decisions were made. There is also a by-election still to take place in the Port Talbot ward, which will be held on June 23 after the passing of independent councillor Andrew Tutton.
Cllr Hunt said: “Currently our independent group are excited about the future for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council. However we are still discussing all options available to us and keeping an open mind regarding any potential coalitions, alliances or agreements. There is a lot to consider and we are not taking any decisions lightly.”
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