Conservative politician James Evans has quit his role as a Powys county councillor to concentrate on his role as a Senedd Member, citing the local authority’s pursuit of closing small rural schools in the county as a major factor.

Mr Evans said found it increasingly difficult to represent his ward of Gwernyfed while being a Member of the Senedd.

Mr Evans has represented Gwernyfed on Powys County Council (PCC) since 2017, but in May last year he won the vacant Brecon and Radnorshire seat in the 2021 Senedd elections, after incumbent Kirsty Williams announced her departure from politics after more than 20 years.

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Previously a Liberal Democrat stronghold, Mr Evans won the Brecon and Radnorshire seat with a majority of 3,820 votes over Lib Dem opponent William Powell. Ms Williams had retained her seat at the previous election by 8,170 votes, with the seat was won by the Welsh Conservatives for the first time.

Mr Evans, previously a cabinet member for PCC, relinquished that role in October 2020, and soon after it was announced he would be running for the Senedd. But since beating Mr Powell, he says he has found it difficult balancing both roles. His increasing presence in Cardiff Bay has led to falling attendance at council meetings in Powys, while he says he does not support the council’s continued closure of primary schools – even though the council’s cabinet is governed by a coalition of Mr Evans’ own Conservative party and independent councillors.

He announced his resignation as Gwernyfed’s representative in a letter sent out to his constituents over the Christmas period – a copy of which has been obtained by the County Times.

“As most of you are aware in the recent Senedd elections in May, I was elected to represent Brecon and Radnorshire,” said MS Mr Evans.

“The support I had from the community was overwhelming. However, since the election, I have found it to be a difficult balancing act between attending meetings in Cardiff and in Powys, causing my attendance at Powys meetings to fall.

“The current direction of the council in closing small rural schools is something I personally cannot support.

“In light of the above I have decided to take one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make and tender my resignation as county councillor for the Gwernyfed Ward from Powys County Council this week.”

Mr Evans, the shadow minister for mental heath, wellbeing and Mid Wales, insists he will continue to represent and support his local community in his role as MS.

“Being elected in May 2017 to be your county councillor was the biggest honour and privilege of my life,” he added.

“I will continue to support and represent the community as I have done for the last four-and-a-half years but through my role as your Senedd Member."

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