THE decision of Sully independent councillor Bob Penrose to work with the Tory group on the Vale Council has angered Plaid Cymru members because it gives the Conservatives more power on committees.
Coun Penrose will serve in the Vale cabinet alongside the Conservatives, and his decision means the ruling administration has a majority 24 of the 47 councillors. On the council website, he is described as ‘Independent (Part of the Conservative Group)’.
Early this week, Coun Penrose told The GEM he would remain as an independent councillor. He said he would be making a statement in due course.
Plaid Cymru’s Coun Ian Johnson said: “By becoming a member of the Conservative group, despite being elected as an independent, Coun Penrose has given more committee seats and more power to the Tories.
“Through joining the Conservative group, they will be entitled to additional seats on more important council committees than Coun Penrose would have received as an independent, strengthening their hand in crucial committees, such as ‘Planning’, where they will now have a majority of seats.
“If Coun Penrose is taking up Tory seats on committees and voting with the Tory whip then most people in Sully and beyond would rightly see him as a member of the Tories.”
Coun Johnson added: “The problem with so-called independent councillors is that they are often anything but independent when it comes down to it.”
Coun Johnson pointed out that in the previous Labour-Llantwit coalition, the different groups were treated separately in calculating committee seat allocations. On this occasion, it appears allocations will be made on the 24-member group, the Conservatives plus Coun Penrose.