Tremor but no earthquake in Swansea as Labour holds onto power
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Labour has held onto power in Swansea after securing 45 seats in the council elections.
It was a loss of three compared to the 2017 election but still a large majority with 75 councillor seats up for grabs.
There was the odd the tremor in the county’s political crust but certainly no earthquake as the Conservatives dropped two seats, finishing with seven, the Independents@Swansea retained three seats, and the Independents added one to finish the evening with four.
The Uplands party enjoyed a clean sweep in Uplands, bagging all four seats although one of the winners, Allan Jeffery, remains in hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest while out campaigning.
The Liberal Democrats had a good showing, taking all five seats in Sketty and claiming 11 seats in total, four more than in 2017.
And Swansea has its first Wales Green Party councillor after Chris Evans was declared the winner in Mayals.
One overarching theme on the day was the sight of more female councillors and a younger, more diverse demographic.
The afternoon was stretching into evening with one final ward, Clydach, to declare. Following two recounts, and ironic applause from the hard-working counters when Labour finally conceded defeat, it was confirmed that the Conservatives’ Brigitte Rowlands had pipped Labour’s Susan Powell by just eight votes to claim the third seat.
Swansea Labour leader Rob Stewart, who continues to serve Morriston, said: “We were very close to the record-breaking result that we had at the last election. It’s a really strong Labour vote that came out again.
“We are grateful to the people of Swansea and will carry on with the delivery that we promised.
“We are disappointed we lost a couple, but overall, we’re pretty much where we were.”
Cllr Stewart, 50, said he felt the boundary changes which were approved for this election had had a detrimental impact on Labour in the new Mumbles, and Dunvant and Killay, wards.
Looking ahead, he said Labour was keen to invest up to £10 million in Swansea’s roads, secure a major tenant for the vacant Debenhams store in the Quadrant Shopping Centre, start work on the new seawall in Mumbles, roll out community cleansing operatives to all 32 wards, deliver a new sports facility in Bonymaen, invest up to £30 million in special school provision and, through a development partner, a new aquarium and mixed-use scheme as part of Copr Bay phase two.
Cllr Chris Holley, the leader of Swansea Lib-Dems, said: “I think we have done reasonably well – I think we could have done better.
“Huge congratulations to the teams who went out there and worked very hard. I showed overall the Lib-Dems showed that we are coming back.”
Cllr Holley paid testament to the efforts of the Sketty candidates after their impressive showing. He also congratulated husband and wife Jeff and Mary Jones for taking two of the three Dunvant and Killay seats.
The Lib-Dems also held onto the three Cwmbwrla seats. “I think it cemented the fact that we are out there all year round unlike Labour, who turn up at election time,” said Cllr Holley.
Swansea Conservatives leader Lyndon Jones said he was disappointed to lose two councillors.
“But to end up with seven, including one in Clydach, which was always going to be a hard fight, was a I believe a good result for the Welsh Conservatives,” he said.
Cllr Jones said he and his colleagues would represent Conservative voters in Swansea for the next five years and offer a constructive challenge to Labour.
“On a personal note, I was absolutely delighted to be re-elected as the councillor Bishopston, and probably had the largest increase in the vote of any Welsh Conservatives in Wales,” he said.
Some candidates said the campaign in their patch was dirty and not something they want to go through again; others cited a more collegiate atmosphere among the different parties.
Uplands party leader Peter May said it was the latter in his ward.
“The camaraderie between all candidates has been great,” he said. “The Labour team deserve a huge pat on the back for the way they conducted themselves.”
Uplands, he said, was “the best ward in the city”. He also thanked the NHS for its life-saving efforts on his colleague Allan Jeffery, who couldn’t be at the count to savour the winning feeling.
Leafy Mayals, meanwhile, has a new political shade of green after Wales Green Party’s Cllr Evans took the applause at the declaration. He is Swansea’s first ever Green councillor.
Cllr Evans thanked voters and said he looked forward to working with all the different parties to push forward the green agenda in Swansea.
“Labour has made an excellent start on green issues – I hope to take it to another level,” he said.
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