COUNCIL ELECTIONS: Labour celebrates in Caerphilly amid accusations
5:50pm Friday 4th May 2012 in Election news
LABOUR was today celebrating victory over Plaid Cymru in Caerphilly county borough where it dramatically won control of the authority.
The defeat saw Plaid council leader Allan Pritchard, of Penmaen, lose his seat with the party picking up only 20 councillors, down from 32.
Labour romped home with 50 seats, giving the party control of the council for the third time since its formation in 1996.
Only three independents were elected.
Plaid seats were lost in Penmaen and Pontllanfraith, and Mr Pritchard blamed "misinformation" over the recent Blackwood Retail Park planning decision as a deciding factor in the vote - but Labour party representatives rejected the claims about its literature.
Last March a planning application for a change of use at the former Focus DIY store to allow for a food store was turned down - developers said 400 jobs could have been created and Morrisons was lined up for the site.
Former Labour Welsh Secretary Ron Davies, who had sat as an independent councillor and ran as a candidate for Plaid, also lost his seat.
Plaid had run the council in coalition with Mr Davies and two other independents.
Labour leader Cllr Harry Andrews said: "I'm delighted by the fantastic effort by the party's candidates in this election."
He said the party "has worked every single week to win the hearts and minds of residents in support of a Labour administration".
Mr Pritchard, former Penmaen councillor, where Labour won both seats from Plaid Cymru, said he was "bitterly disappointed" and that the administration had worked its "socks off".
"One major thing is the misleading of the electorate over the so-called development in the south of Blackwood, which had a huge effect on the voting," he said.
Mr Davies said calls by Labour to cast a protest vote against the UK government was phony" politics".
But Labour co-deputy leader and Aberbargoed councillor Keith Reynolds said there was no misinformation over Blackwood Retail Park in party literature.
Leon Gardiner was the first councillor to be elected in Gwent on election night in his ward of Argoed, while current Caerphilly mayor Vera Jenkins lost her seat.
Caerphilly council estimated the turnout at 35 per cent.