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Labour increase majority in Torfaen, Conservatives wiped out and ten Independents elected

a man wearing a blue rosette
Conservatives group leader Huw Bevan (centre) lost his Llanfrechfa and Ponthir seat by nine votes

LABOUR increased its majority on Torfaen council with a strong victory, while the Conservatives were wiped out and left with no political representation for the first time in decades.

The Labour party took 30 seats, while ten Independent candidates were elected following Thursday’s election and results on Friday. But not a single Conservative candidate was elected.

The council previously had 27 Labour councillors, four Conservatives and 12 Independents (there were 44 seats with one vacancy in Blaenavon).

a group of Labour councillors
Labour candidates celebrate on results day in Torfaen.

Three Conservative councillors were ousted in the New Inn ward alone – Keith James, Nicholas Jones and Richard Overton – with Labour candidates Nick Byrne, Jon James and Rosemary Matthews triumphing there.

And to compound the misery for the Conservatives, group leader Huw Bevan lost by nine votes to Labour’s Karl Gauden in the Llanfrechfa and Ponthir ward.

The Ponthir ward has been held by Mr Bevan for 10 years and was Conservative for 16 years before that.

two women
Sisters Elizabeth Haynes and Catherine Bonera were elected as Independent candidates for St Dials ward

There were some gains for Independents, with Catherine Bonera elected in the same ward as her sister (also Independent) Elizabeth Haynes. Both now represent St Dials, replacing Labour councillor Fay Jones.

Meanwhile Independent Gwyn Jenkins lost in the Pontnewynydd and Snatchwood ward, with two new Labour candidates – Alfie Best and Nicholas Simons – elected, while Independent Jason O’Connell was defeated by Labour’s Mandy Owen in the Greenmeadow ward.

The Liberal Democrats, which had three candidates, and Plaid Cymru, The Green Party and Freedom Alliance, which each had one, failed to make any gains.

Labour group leader Anthony Hunt pledged to “work hard to deliver for the people of Torfaen whether they voted for us or not”.

“We’ve got a team of candidates who I think were successful because they really care about their communities,” he said.

“We are not big just sort of big politicians, we are community activists. That’s something that’s at my core.

“I feel that responsibility to deliver for everyone whoever they voted for and to try and make communities better and help people through a difficult time.”

Mr Hunt said helping people through the cost of living, investing in and improving schools and issues around climate change would be the key priorities of the next term.

He said the results of the Conservative group in Torfaen were “no reflection on the local Conservative candidates but it’s every reflection on the prime minister and their leadership [nationally]”.

Conservative group leader Mr Bevan said the results were “very disappointing” and that it felt like “the end of an era”.

“Undoubtedly partygate and Boris has had an impact on causing a lot of traditional Conservative voters to stay at home,” he said.

“It’s a sad day that we do not have any representation on Torfaen County Borough Council.

“It’s disappointing not just for myself but for my colleagues as well.”

Mr Bevan said the group would come back with “a different approach” in five years, but he said that he does not expect to be leader.

Independent group leader Ron Burnett, who was also re-elected, said it was “a good day for the Independents”.

Mr Burnett pledged to work together for the benefit of residents.

“Local elections is always about the person, not the party,” he said.

“It’s about what we can do for constituents, not the party.”

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Labour increase majority in Torfaen, Conservatives wiped out and ten Independents elected