South East Wales

Labour keeps control of Cardiff despite losing seats

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Media captionCardiff Council leader Phil Bale said Labour's performance in keeping control of the city was "extraordinary".

Labour has retained control of Cardiff council despite suffering three major blows in the local elections.

The party lost its council leader in Merthyr Tydfil and control of Blaenau Gwent council - both to independents.

It also lost its majority in Bridgend, the stronghold of the first minister and Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones.

Labour has also kept control of Caerphilly, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Torfaen, while the Tories won a majority in Monmouthshire.

The Vale of Glamorgan will remain with no party in overall control, although the Conservatives overtook Labour to become the largest party, one seat short of overall control.

Image caption Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood at the Rhondda count

In Rhondda Cynon Taff, Labour lost 13 seats, but held on to its majority with 47 seats.

Plaid won 18 seats - up from nine - independents four, Conservatives four, while the Liberal Democrats and the Cynon Valley party got one seat each.

Three more seats are still to be counted for Merthyr Tydfil council on 8 June after the election for Cyfarthfa ward was postponed following the death of a candidate.

The council's leader, Brendan Toomey, was ousted as independents took nine seats from Labour in the county.

He said Labour was "having a very disappointing evening to say the least".

Mr Toomey, who lost the Park ward to an independent candidate, told BBC Radio 4: "It is quite clear that huge numbers of the public aren't entirely happy, to say the least, with the way the Labour Party is going at the moment."

Monmouthshire council had been run by an arrangement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats since 2012. Deputy leader Phil Hobson was one of the Lib Dems to lose their seats to the Tories.

Bridgend AM and Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones took to Twitter saying it had been a "testing night for many of our candidates".

He said: "Thanks to you all for standing and for your hard work. There will be better times.

"Still, we can take great heart that we did so well in Newport, Cardiff and Swansea and held them off in so many of their target areas."

The First Minister later said the Tories had been briefing against the party, and that Labour had "defied the odds".

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said the Tories had a "good night at the office", making "huge strides" in the Vale of Glamorgan and reaching double digits in the first minister's "backyard".

In Cardiff, Labour maintained control with 40 seats, losing control of six seats, including four to the Conservatives in Whitchurch.

The Tories have 20 seats, the Liberal Democrats 11, Plaid Cymru three, while independents have one.

The future of the council's leader Phil Bale, who was re-elected to the Llanishen seat, remains under question, with a potential leadership challenge expected.

BBC Wales understands Labour Cardiff councillors who are unhappy with the party's leadership of the council are scheduled to meet on Friday.

Speaking at the count Mr Bale said he did not know anything about it but said he would like to remain as leader.

He said the turnout in the capital had been amazing, adding: "Its been a great result, we all have to move on and do the best for Cardiff."

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Media captionIndependents toppled Labour in Merthyr Tydfil, where councillor Kevin O'Neill said it was about community issues.

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