VOTERS in part of Blaenau Gwent have said they feel “horrified and betrayed” after an Independent candidate chose to join Labour just days after being voted in.

Cllr Carl Bainton topped the poll as an Independent in the Ebbw Vale South ward at the local elections on Friday, May 6.

But, the following week he announced he would be joining the council’s Labour group, saying he had made the decision following “soul searching”.

South Wales Argus: Carl Bainton posts on Facebook his decision to join Labour - just days after being voted onto Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council as an Independent for the Ebbw Vale South ward.

Cllr Bainton's social media post

While some have congratulated Cllr Bainton, he has come in for heavy criticism, including calls to resign and allow a by-election to take place

One of the critics is Zoe Powell, she said: “Many of our electorate feel horrified and betrayed by him and that he should resign.

“They did not want to vote Labour.

“There were two Labour candidates standing.

“He uses the excuse that an Independent and Labour councillor cannot work together, but other wards in Blaenau Gwent have managed successfully for many years.

“Why is he allowed to use Independent votes to gain a seat for Labour?

“Surely this is a blatant corruption of the voting system.”

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: “There is nothing in law to prevent an individual from changing their allegiance after they have been elected.

“Someone can challenge the result of an election by issuing an election petition.

“This is a legal action and will be adjudicated by a judge in a court.

“A petition can be presented by a person claiming to have been a candidate at the election, or four people who voted as voters at the election or had a right to vote at the election.

“A petition at a local government election must normally be presented within 21 calendar days after the day on which the election was held.”

Cllr Bainton previously stood in the 2017 local government election for Labour as a candidate in the Ebbw Vale North ward.

On Tuesday, May 10, Cllr Bainton said:  “Over the weekend I have done some really difficult soul-searching and reflection on the results, particularly in how I may best serve the ward and its constituents going forward.

“After speaking to a number of ward residents, I decided that I would best serve my community by aligning myself with the Welsh Labour Party in Blaenau Gwent.

“I know that this difficult decision that I have made will be controversial for some people, but I believe that it is the correct decision in beginning to make a real difference in our area.”

He believes that havibg two Labour councillors for the ward is better than having one Independent and one Labour.

Labour group leader, Cllr Steve Thomas, who is expected to be officially installed as Blaenau Gwent council leader later this month, said that his group are “delighted to welcome him.”