It was Labour’s day at the local elections in Bridgend as the party took back control of a council it lost five years ago. Labour and independents saw the biggest gains, with Labour securing 27 seats and independent candidates winning 21.
The Conservatives saw the biggest loss, going from 11 councillors five years ago to a single councillor this time.
Although Labour came out on top, the independents by far saw the biggest increase in seats, with eight more councillors winning this year compared to five years ago. Ward boundaries have changed this election meaning a direct comparison to result on a ward-by-ward basis is not simple.
The full results in Bridgend:
Conservatives lose big
As predicted, the Conservatives struggled to hold on to seats in this year’s local government elections in Bridgend – mirroring the national picture for the party. The only seat won by the Conservatives in Bridgend was Newton, where Jonathan Pratt beat independent Mario Jones and Elen Jones to the single seat ward with 424 votes.
Oldcastle completely changed hands from Conservative to independent, with party group leader Matthew Voisey losing his seat. The victors there were Freya Bletsoe and Ian Williams, who both take a seat at county borough level for the first time.
In Pen-y-fai former councillor Altaf Hussain could not run for re-election after he won the Senedd election in 2021 however the Conservative candidate standing in his place, Corey Edwards, lost out to Labour’s Heidi Bennett, who claimed the seat with 434 votes.
Independents took overall control of a number of wards across the county borough, including Bridgend Central and Bryntirion, Laleston and Merthyr Mawr. In Coity Higher – one of the newly formed wards – the independents saw a clean sweep as husband and wife, Amanda and Martin Williams won seats alongside Alan Wathan.
Steven Bletsoe, who won a seat on BCBC for the first time at Bridgend Central – having attempted in the last local elections – said: “I feel like I have taken the last five years proving myself, using my position as a town councillor. I am over the moon that enough people have supported me and put their faith in me.”
On his next steps as a councillor, Mr Bletsoe said: “I want to get my teeth into the waste situation. For the other parts of the ward, I want to create a better town. The communal waste areas are not fit for purpose. People have had to live with it for five years. They haven’t worked from day one. Something has got to be done. That is what I campaigned on and I have got to deliver.”
Labour is yet to confirm its leader but it appears Huw David will most likely reinstate his position as leader. He said: “We are thrilled with the results that we have had today. We will deliver on our manifesto pledges. We are committed to help tackle the cost of living crisis and one of our first priorities will be, for example, ensuring that we role out the free school meals for all primary school children as quickly as possible because that will require major investment in many of our school kitchens across the county borough.
“And, of course, rolling out free child care for two-year-olds. Again, that will help working families across Bridgend County Borough.”
Cabinet member for education and regeneration, Charles Smith, who had been a councillor since 2012 lost his seat. He was running for re-election in the newly formed ward, Cefn-glas.
Cllr David added: “Elections are always unpredictable. You can never make a 100% projection about results, but it has been particularly difficult this year because there are so many new wards in Bridgend County Borough. Even incumbent councillors have had to fight [in] different wards and different communities.”
The result in 2017
In 2017, Labour took the majority of seats with 26 out of 54 so it did not have overall control. Three of the four seats in the Brackla ward switched to Conservatives. It was described at the time as a “bloody nose” for the party, which was home to then-leader of Welsh Labour, Carwyn Jones. Independent candidates in many guises and groups inflicted defeats in key areas but it was the Conservatives who came out of nowhere to cut Labour’s majority. Labour’s Huw David has been leader since October 2016.
Independent : 13
Plaid Cymru : 3
Liberal Democrats : 1
However, the make up at the close of the term before the election saw a change to 16 independents and seven Conservatives.