A THIRD councillor has departed the Conservative Group on Powys Council in the space of just one month.

It emerged over the weekend that the latest councillor to leave the group is Cllr Mark Barnes who represents the Newtown Llanllwchaiarn West ward.

It means that of the 20 Conservatives elected to the council at the last election, just 12 remain within the group, and he joins former finance portfolio holder Iain McIntosh and Senedd Member James Evans in departing the group in recent weeks.

Cllr Barnes said: “The Montgomery Conservative Association is not acting for the good of the community and there has been a lack of integrity over a couple of issues meaning that I can no longer recommend them to the people of my ward.

“I will continue as an independent non-aligned member now and into the next election ”

Cllr Barnes did leave the Conservative group in June 2019 but re-joined later that year.

Cllr Iain McIntosh resigned from both the cabinet and the group in a live an online cabinet meeting on December 14, 2021.

This came just moments after Cradoc primary school which is in his ward was condemned to closure as part of a shake up and merger of schools in the Brecon area.

Cllr Iain McIntosh, now an unaligned Conservative has said: : “I’m really sorry to see Mark leave the Conservative group and I sympathise entirely with his reasons for leaving.

“This means the group is now down to 12 members, from 20 who were part of the group when I was elected in 2017.

“The Conservative group has achieved a lot since then, but some decisions that have been made, such as council tax increases and school closures, which go against the party’s manifesto, have resulted in far too many group departures.”

He added that there should be no rise in council tax for next year, following the Welsh Government announcement just before Christmas that Powys will receive and extra £18 million of funding.

Due to his Senedd workload former council cabinet member and now Conservative MS for Brecon and Radnorshire, James Evans resigned at the New Year.

With Mr Evans’ former Gwernyfed ward left vacant until the May election, this effectively means Powys now has 72 councillors.

The resignations leave the Independent/Conservative coalition with 35 members, during the final few months of its administration.

If all 37-opposition group and non-aligned councillors vote together, they could reject the 2022/23 budget when it’s voted on in a few weeks’ time.

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