A new Council and cabinet appointments
There is an air of change in County Hall this time around, with a significant amount of seats changing hands in this election. A quick bit of maths reveals some big changes in the makeup of the the Council, and you may be surprised by the amount some groups have changed. N.B I’ve rounded up the percentages to the nearest whole percentage number. I have also used the group compositions from the end of the 2012 term rather than the elections in 2012, to reflect defection and by-election results. I have also included the unaffiliated independents in the Independent group stats to make the maths slightly more understandable.
In with the new…
There is a definite new look to the Council. While Councillors’ ages are not publicly displayed, it’s clear that many younger Councillors (under retirement age) have been elected this time around. There is no way of doing stats for this as age figures are not available.
39% of Councillors are new. The Labour group lead with 55% new members, Plaid are in second with 42% new members ,and the Independents are way behind with a new cohort of 12.5%. There are 29 new members out of 74 Councillors, which is quite a bit to keep up with.
Roughly the U.K. gender balance is 49% male, 51% female, and in this day and age we should start to expect our representatives to look something like the population as a whole. Unfortunately this round of Council elections hasn’t made the leap forward in gender equality that we would hope. The 2012 (and subsequent by-elections) intake was 28% women. The 2017 intake is 31% women, a meagre +3% shuffle forward.
On a positive note, both major political parties in Carmarthenshire made a positive contribution; women make up 28% (+8 % on 2012) of the Plaid Group. While Plaid have 15 new faces, they only elected 4 more women than by the end of the last term. A step forward, but a small one.
Labour lead with 45% (+9%). Both Plaid and Labour have 10 women elected, which makes Labour’s feat more impressive given the fact they have a far smaller group and took losses in the election. This is mainly due to the proactive policy within the party of selecting one man and one woman in safer dual member seats, where previously men would get the nod in selections. They are still short of parity, but almost there.
The Independents are where women took the electoral hit, with a -9% change on the previous term, leaving just 3 independent affiliated Women out of 16 Councillors. Much of this can be put down to Pam Palmer and Meryl Gravell standing down. However, Teressa Bowen losing to the party she defected from and Sian Caiach losing her seat also add to the tally. There is a severe shortage of independently elected women, which is a general drag on the statistics of the Council as a whole.
Its worth noting that 2 Councillors are of ethnic minority, making up 2.7% of the Council, both in the Labour Group.
Straight off the rumour mill are the cabinet appointments for Plaid Cymru. It’s understood that Emlyn Dole made it a rule that first time Councillors would not be making it into the cabinet, this severely restricted him in his choices and would also have limited him to mainly men from the previous 2012 Plaid Group. These aren’t confirmed, but from the rumors going around they are probably correct.
Chief showman and all round nice chap is Glynog Davies, who will be taking the Education brief. Glynog often makes great speeches to the chamber, which is no surprise with his background in TV. He generally gets on with the politicians across all groups in the chamber. He will hopefully strike up more dialogue with protesters and opposition groups than has previously been the cabinet approach, as there are many issues around the corner such what to do about Llanerch fields.
Cefin Campbell also takes a cabinet position, although I’m not sure what the brief is yet. Cefin led the cross party working group (Y Gweithgor) on the Welsh Language and worked to build cross party support on the issue.
Finally, a culture brief goes to former group leader Peter Hughes Griffiths (father of Llyr Hughes Griffiths AM). Part of Peter’s brief will be the Welsh Language, which is in a state of critical decline throughout Carmarthenshire. This post will require deft skill at building cross party consensus, which was previously achieved by Cefin Campbell. Early in the last Council term PHG and Kevin Madge would spar quite aggressively across the Council chamber, making quite a few of the newbies on both sides uncomfortable. Hopefully a change in tone will come from being in a cabinet position rather than leader.
Many will be disappointed that Gorslas Councillor Darren Price didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason it would have been good to see a younger face in the cabinet.
I expect the rest of the cabinet will remain unchanged, although we will find out by the AGM when the Council leader makes his cabinet official.
Chains and sandwiches
The formal ceremony of the AGM will be coming up soon. It comprises of the usual pomp and ceremony that bores the hell out of the webcast viewers as much as he Councillors sitting through it. Most make it through the morning by looking forward to the one and only free sandwiches they get all year.