PLAID CYMRU have moved one step closer to forming a majority administration at County Hall as Llangadog’s Independent councillor Andrew James joins the Plaid Group. The move has led to calls for a by-election by Labour councillor Rob James. He claims that councillor James will no longer be representing the views of the people who voted for him as an Independent. The Llanelli councillor has also poured scorn on the ability of councillor James to stand up for his constituents specifically regarding the closure of the recycling centre at Llangadog.
In a statement sent to Llanelli Online councillor Rob James who represents the Lliedi ward said: “We have known for some time that the Plaid Cymru leadership having been frantically attempting to persuade Independent Councillors to cross the floor, so that they may go it alone.
“Llangadog has a long history in electing Councillors who claim that they’ll be an independent voice for their area in County Hall, yet Cllr James’ actions since the election has demonstrated that he is unable to stand up for Llangadog. Carmarthenshire Council continue to ignore the wishes of residents and businesses living in the north of our County, by failing to provide adequate recycling facilities since the closure of the AWS recycling site in Llangadog.
“Considering that Plaid have failed to win a council seat in Llangadog despite standing in every election since 2004, Cllr James should consider standing down and trigger a by-election, enabling the residents to decide if they want to be represented at the county level by Plaid Cymru.”
Llanelli Online contacted councillor Andrew James and asked him if he believed that there was a need for a by election and if he believed he had betrayed the people who had voted for him by taking on manifesto of a party his constituents had not voted for.
Councillor James said: “I am due to join the party. I have been approached by Plaid several times over the years. I am an independent strong character and I didn’t think joining a party was appropriate at the time I stood for election. We were in coalition with Labour and things worked well. I am surprised at the Llanelli councillor’s comments. They probably don’t know me. Plaid’s manifesto is in line with what I believe and there is no problem with the Independents, no spilt milk or bad feeling.
“During the last year or so I have worked a lot with Plaid Cymru on issues that are fundamentally important to me in a rural ward. Everything I do is for the people. If I choose to stand next time I will be standing for Plaid Cymru. I have worked hard for the people of Llangadog and increased the majority. I don”t think anyone would question Andrew James the person. I will be holding my own sessions in the ward to explain. I don’t need any political party or people from Llanelli to tell me what to do. I have an impeccable track record of listening to the residents.
“As a result of working with Plaid Cymru I could see there was an affinity and a natural bond under the leadership of Emlyn Dole but also the chairmanship of the rural forum with Cefin Campbell. We have looked at having a new school in Llangadog and we have worked very hard.”
Asked if he believed he had lost the benefit of being able to voice any concerns as an independent rather than towing a party line he said: “I have not lost the benefit of being independent I have gained. Emlyn Dole has told me that if I feel strongly about an issue I have a right to speak. I like to think that we are on the same wavelength. When Labour and the independents wanted to remove the service for post 16 transport I opposed that as a rural councillor. Every child should have the opportunity to get an education and the transport to school. I always went against that with Plaid Cymru, against my own party. I am a strong character and I am joining Plaid Cymru because I am Welsh and I am proud to be Welsh.
“It has been less than a week since I made the decision. There is a lot to do. I appreciate the point being made about representing a party now but the people voted for me as a person. I have not changed. I will let them know why I have joined Plaid Cymru. I have the support of Plaid Cymru and I think I am in a stronger position to represent people now.
Asked about the claims tha he had let the people of Llangadog down regarding the closure of the recycling centre he said: “I will be looking at the issue of the recycling centre. We are waiting for a report. It closed on 24th March last year. I am mindful a year has passed. Let’s see what the Welsh Government does now. We have to meet targets. We are 2% above the target and that is nothing to get excited about. I am a spokesman for the people up here and I have been a spokesman for the people of Llandovery, Llandeilo and Rhandirmwyn. Hopefully being with Plaid Cymru I will not be as isolated as I was as an Independent. I have a good rapport with Labour too. I am looking forward to a good working relationship with our MP. There are now more people I can speak to and work with. I won’t please everybody but I like to think that people are supporting me but time will tell. I am better situated with people who are similar to me as a farmer, rural affairs and the Welsh language.”