Monmouthshire coalition talks continue

FORMAL talks began today to decide the shape of administration that will run Monmouthshire council.

That's according to Phil Hobson, Liberal Democrat group leader in the county borough, which was left in no overall control after the Tory group failed to get a majority at the May 3 elections Meanwhile it has emerged that Roger Harris, councillor for Croesonen, has become Labour group leader following a meeting of the group on Sunday after previous group leader Jim Higginson stepped down.

Larkfield councillor Hobson said the Lib Dem group has received approaches from Labour, the independents and the Conservatives.

He said the group of three will be guided by what’s in the best interests of Monmouthshire, forming a stable majority and seeking an alliance where "we all have confidence and trust in each other."

He said the independents were more a "collection of 12 individuals" and "that’s a big sticking point for us."

"Like a machine, less components, more reliable," he said.

However he added: "We're not ruling anything out. We're trying to rule things in."

Mr Harris confirmed that he was selected as a leader at a meeting on Monday.

Yesterday morning he said he hadn't spoken to any other councillors about coalition talks yet.

"Our position is that we will listen to any proposals that any other group puts towards us," he said.

Mr Harris wouldn't comment on whether Mr Higginson stepped down, but it is understood that he did at the meeting and that an election was held.

Peter Fox, leader of the largest group of councillors, the Tories, said told the Argus that he wasn't ruling out anything either and "will work with anybody in the council".

Simon Howarth, leader of the Plaid and Independents group in Monmouthshire, said he didn't have anything to disclose yesterday.

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