A DEAL with the Labour group has seen Liberal Democrat group leader James Gibson-Watt installed as the leader of Powys council.

After weeks of discussion a formal alliance between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour group was agreed, and they will run the council as a minority administration with 33 of 68 councillors in their coalition.

But the agreement still needed to be rubber-stamped by council.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Gibson-Watt was nominated by Labour group leader Cllr Mathew Dorrance and seconded by veteran Lib Dem Cllr Gareth Morgan.

Cllr Gibson-Watt was then formally elected with 56 votes for, one against and eight abstentions.

Before the council elections the council had been run as a coalition between the largest independent group and their junior partners the Conservatives.

After today's vote, Cllr Gibson-Watt paid tribute to former leader Rosemarie Harris who lost her seat at the election and for the work that was done by staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Gibson-Watt said: “I think Powys can hold its head high, the county and the whole public sector in the health and social care sector can feel really proud of what they did in astonishing circumstances.

“And it’s not gone away this will be an ongoing problem for many years to come, and it’s been dealt with in a very good fashion here.”

Cllr Gibson-Watt “It is my absolute determination that we shall work in a collaborative way, that the concept of them and us will be removed as far as possible.”

While decisions are made by the cabinet, Cllr Gibson-Watt said involvement of “all” members of council and “points of view” will be important in future.

“My door will always be open to anybody from across the council at all times and I’m happy to work with anybody,” said Cllr Gibson-Watt.

The National Wales: From left, vice chair Cllr Beverley Baynham, James Gibson-Watt, council chair Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe, Chief Executive Dr Caroline Turner and assistant vice chair Cllr Jonathan Wilkinson.From left, vice chair Cllr Beverley Baynham, James Gibson-Watt, council chair Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe, Chief Executive Dr Caroline Turner and assistant vice chair Cllr Jonathan Wilkinson.

The cabinet will be made up of seven Liberal Democrats and four Labour councillors, although two will share one portfolio.

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Cllr Gibson-Watt on unveiling his cabinet said: “The challenges we face are going to be very significant indeed we are entering tough days for a huge variety of reasons and local government will face the full brunt of that.”

The cabinet members are:

  • Cllr Gibson-Watt (Liberal Democrat) – will also hold the brief for an open and transparent Powys.
  • Cllr Matthew Dorrance, (Labour) – Deputy leader and cabinet member for a fairer Powys
  • Cllr David Selby (Lib Dem) – prosperous Powys
  • Cllr David Thomas (Lab) = finance and corporate transformation
  • Cllr Sian Cox (Lib Dem)- a caring Powys
  • Cllr Richard Church (Lib Dem)- a s safer Powys
  • Cllr Pete Roberts (Lib Dem)- learning Powys (education)
  • Cllr Jackie Charlton (Lib Dem) – a greener Powys.
  • Cllr Susan McNicholas and Sandra Davies (both Labour) by job share – future generation
  • Cllr Jake Berriman (Lib Dem) – a connected Powys.

Cllr Gareth Ward, who represents Hay, is the new chairman of the council, Beverley Baynham was named vice chair, and Jonathan Wilkinson, who represent Llangyniew and Meifod, was named assistant vice chair.

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