Wales

Blaenau Gwent council appoints new leader John Mason

Des Hillman
Image caption Des Hillman had faced pressure from his own group and the Labour group on the council

Blaenau Gwent council has appointed a new leader after the resignation of Des Hillman over what he called "skulduggery" in the authority's ruling group.

The independent councillor stood down on Monday after weeks of wrangling.

Ex-deputy leader John Mason, also an independent, was appointed as leader.

The Welsh government had brought in commissioners to oversee Blaenau Gwent education, and set up an inquiry into the running of the council.

Mr Hillman had told BBC Wales there was "skulduggery" and "dirty politics" in his own group of councillors.

Seven weeks ago he and his deputy narrowly survived a no-confidence vote.

Determination

Since then he has faced pressure from the Labour group on the local authority as well as his own group of independents.

Mr Hillman also said he feared ministers would step in to end political infighting and take over the running of the authority.

He claimed the Welsh government wanted to see a Labour-controlled administration.

The Welsh government denied claims it was targeting independent--run councils.

The new leader said elected members and council staff shared his determination to get on with the job in hand.

"We are focused on continuing to make progress on areas where we know we must do better, and delivering the very best possible outcomes for Blaenau Gwent," said Mr Mason.

Coun John Taylor was appointed as deputy leader.

The council will meet on 20 October to discuss other changes, including three appointments from the Labour group to the executive.

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