FIRSTLY, I would like to thank everyone for the support I have received during the failed campaign against me over the past few months, led by Torfaen Labour’s Paul Murphy MP and Lynne Neagle AM.

The conspiracy by Welsh Labour HQ, initiated by Llantarnam councillor David Daniels, in accusing me of racism and homophobic comments was dismissed by the Ombudsman. For the record, I stand by my opinions on anti-immigration. Furthermore, I will continue to stand up for Christian values. Although I disagree with his opinion, Cllr Daniels is free to express his support to abolish the monarchy. Paul Murphy MP and Lynne Neagle AM appear to confuse me with the rank and file of their own Torfaen Labour Party Group, who do not enjoy the same freedom of speech afforded independent councillors.

As an independent, I came into politics because I recognised the failings of this Labour-led Torfaen Council regime, who have all but destroyed our borough.

My independence allows me to criticise and challenge the failings of this council and I will continue to do so. We have the poorest record in Wales on education, crime, unemployment and health care. The run down town centre in my Pontypool ward is a shadow of its former glory with many of the decent shops now either boarded up or operating as charity shops or bookmakers. These are the issues I want to fight for and I challenge Paul Murphy and Lynne Neagle to visit Torfaen and listen to residents’ concerns to give themselves an understanding of how to save Torfaen from further decline.

Mike Harris, Independent councillor, Pontypool Ward