A COUNCILLOR has switched sides and joined the Labour group in Carmarthenshire after becoming frustrated at what he claimed was a “lack of leadership” and “ineptitude” from the Plaid Cymru-Independent administration.
Dafen ward member Rob Evans was elected as an Independent but said he felt the group, which now has 13 councillors, did not provide enough backing.
“I had to fight every issue on my own,” he said.
Cllr Evans said he had always voted Labour in general elections and that he had been made very welcome by the party under its Carmarthenshire leader Rob James.
In a statement Cllr Evans said: “During my time as a councillor in Dafen, it has become clear that this administration does not have the leadership, nor policies, to best support the residents of Dafen.
“My community has been hit hard with millions in cuts to local schools, with more planned this year, a reduction in council services and a greater expectation on residents to pay more for less.”
The 57-year-old paramedic claimed the ruling coalition had put the £200 million Wellness and Life Science Village for Llanelli “at risk due to their ineptitude”.
Council leader Emlyn Dole, of Plaid Cymru, described his comments as “a load of rubbish”.
Cllr Dole said it was the Plaid Cymru-Independent administration which had put together and finalised the Wellness and Life Science Village project at Delta Lakes, but that the subsequent issues which had arisen were not of their making.
There are a number of governance-related reviews under way in the wake of suspensions of four academics at Swansea University — a key partner in the project — which project leaders have been advised could impact on the Delta Lakes scheme.
Cllr Dole also took aim at Cllr Evans’s comments about impending school cuts.
“We are projecting a 2.1% increase in education funding in the budget for 2019/20,” said the Plaid leader.
And it was his view that any cuts by councils were the fault of the Welsh Labour Government for not passing on enough money to local authorities.
Cllr Evans meanwhile wanted to reassure constituents that he was the same person who wanted more investment and less deprivation in Dafen, and that anyone with any issues could approach for him for advice.
Describing his Independent councillor origins, he said: “I went to the electorate saying, ‘This is me, this is who I am, I’m quite unique’. And that has not changed.
“I will continue to fight for Dafen people. I hope they will still be loyal to me.”
Independent group leader, councillor Mair Stephens, said: “I am naturally disappointed that Cllr Rob Evans has chosen to leave our group. I had recently become aware that he held a different view on a small number of issues with the group, but that is exactly what one would expect from a truly independent councillor.
“However, I had hoped that we might have been able to resolve any differences.”
Labour group leader, Cllr James, said it was great to have the newcomer on board.
“Cllr Evans is an incredibly hard-working councillor, with years of experience supporting local communities as a paramedic and I know he will continue to work in the best interests of Dafen, with the support of the Labour Party.”