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Calls for new leader as Newtown councillor resigns

Created on 09/01/2022 @ 08:56
A Newtown Powys county councillor who has only attended 21 per cent of the meetings he could do has resigned from the council's Conservative group.

Cllr Mark Barnes, who represents Newtown Llanllwchaiarn West Ward, is understood to have resigned on Friday evening.

It is not known if he will become an independent councillor or join one of the council's other political groups.

According to council attendances, Cllr Barnes could have attended 14 full council or committee meetings in the last six months, but has only attended three - 21 per cent - even though they have been held virtually.

A fellow Conservative county councillor, Iain McIntosh, who represents Yscir in south Powys, has called for a change of leadership in the political group. The current leader of the Welsh Conservatives on the council is the council's Deputy Leader, Cllr Aled Davies.

He 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.

"It is clearly time the Conservative group had a change of leadership, with someone with an appetite to reverse some of the school closure decisions, and be prepared to keep council tax rises at, or below, the rate of inflation this year and beyond.

"Following the recent announcement by Welsh Government to finally fund Powys at the level it deserves, with an increase of £18million to this year’s settlement, equating to around 22% council tax increase, there should be no council tax increase this year, at all."