The Tories left a seat in Bridgend as Labor and Independents advance
Ted Pesket, local democracy journalist
It was Labor Day in the local elections in Bridgend, as the final results confirmed the party’s victory with a majority.
Labor and Independents recorded the biggest gains, with the former securing 27 seats and the Independents winning 21. The Conservatives recorded the biggest loss, dropping 11 councilors to Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) after the election premises of 2017 to a single.
Although Labor came out on top, the Independents saw by far the biggest increase in seats, with eight more councilors winning this year compared to five years ago.
A total of 40,133 ballots were cast in Bridgend, where 110,171 people were eligible to vote, meaning turnout was 36.25%
The Conservatives are losing big
As expected, the Tories struggled to hold on to seats in this year’s local elections in Bridgend – reflecting the party’s national image.
The only seat won by the Conservatives in Bridgend was Newton as Jonathan Pratt beat independents Mario Jones and Elen Jones in the single-seat ward with 424 votes.
Oldcastle completely changed hands from Conservative to Independent, with the party’s BCBC group leader Matthew Voisey losing his seat. The winners were Freya Bletsoe and Ian Williams, both of whom are sitting at county borough level for the first time.
The other neighborhood unchanged since the last election that the Conservatives lost was Pen-y-fai. Former Altaf councilor Hussain has decided not to run again this year.
The Conservative candidate running in his place, Corey Edwards, lost to Labor’s Heidi Bennett, who won the seat with 434 votes.
Upsurge of independents
Independents took overall control of a number of wards across the county borough, including Bridgend Central and Bryntirion, Laleston and Merthyr Mawr. In Coity Higher – one of the newly formed wards – Independents saw a clean sweep as husband and wife Amanda and Martin Williams won seats alongside Alan Wathan.
Steven Bletsoe, who won a seat on BCBC for the first time in Bridgend Central – having tried in the last local elections – said: ‘I feel like it’s taken the last five years to prove myself, using my position as a city councillor. I’m glad that enough people supported me and put their trust in me.
In his next steps as an adviser, Mr Bletsoe said: ‘I want to cut my teeth [the] waste situation [in Bridgend]. For the other parts of the neighborhood, I want to create a better city for [residents].
“The municipal landfills are not suitable. People had to live with it for five years. They haven’t worked since day one. Something has to be done. This is what I campaigned on and I have to hold on.
Labor has yet to come together to formally form an administration, but it is accepted that Huw David will most likely be reinstated as BCBC leader for another five years.
On the party’s plans for the future, Cllr David said: “We are delighted with the results we have achieved today.
“We will keep our manifesto promises. We are committed to helping to tackle the cost of living crisis and one of our first priorities will be, for example, to ensure that we roll out free school meals for all primary school children as soon as possible. , as this will require significant investment in many of our school kitchens across the county borough.
“And, of course, rolling out free childcare for two-year-olds. Again, this will help the working families of the Bridgend County Borough.
The addition of new wards and the effects of boundary changes have added an element of unpredictability to elections in Bridgend this year. Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration Charles Smith, who had served as a county borough councilor since 2012, lost his BCBC seat. He was running for re-election in the newly formed district, Cefn-glas.
Cllr David added: “Elections are always unpredictable. You can never make a 100% projection of the results, but it has been particularly difficult this year because there are so many new neighborhoods in the County Borough of Bridgend. Even the outgoing advisers had to fight [in] different neighborhoods and different communities.
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