A BID by the former chief whip of the Newport council Labour group to become deputy leader has failed – but a senior party councillor has admitted the group had split over the issue.

Councillor Debbie Davies says deputy leader Cllr Ray Truman was re-elected over challenger Cllr Trevor Watkins at Monday’s annual general meeting, but indicated Cllr Truman missed 41 per cent of the vote.

Meanwhile Bob Bright, Labour leader of Newport council, was re-appointed unopposed as group leader at the same meeting.

The Argus revealed Cllr Watkins’ bid for deputy leader on Monday, with the councillor claiming senior colleagues hadn’t supported him as chief whip and expressing concerns that relations with the public and backbench councillors could be better handled.

Newport City Council’s youngest elected member, Emma Garland of St Julians ward, will now serve as chief whip, following Cllr Watkins’ decision to stand down from the post.

Cllr Davies, who is Labour group business manager, told the Argus that after Monday’s Labour group annual general meeting leader, Bob Bright “was re-appointed unopposed as the leader of the group and of the council.

She said: “Ray Truman continues to be the deputy leader, as he was re-elected having gained 59 per cent of the vote.

“His opponent, Trevor Watkins, was pleased to wish Ray good luck for the future and thanked members for their support.”

Cllr Davies said it was “also pleasing to note that some of our younger members are coming forward and taking on important roles” and confirmed Cllr Garland was elected unopposed as the new chief whip.

Cllr Davies said that Cllr Herbie Thomas, who serves Gaer ward, will serve as chairman, replacing Cllr Jane Mudd.

Councillors Cliff Suller, Omar Ali and Debbie Harvey will serve as deputy whips, she said. The positions of secretary and treasurer are still to be determined.

Following the statements from Cllr Davies, Cllr Watkins, of Tredegar Park ward, told the Argus on Tuesday: “The comments I made at the weekend still apply.

“Whether they take on board those comments or not is another matter.”