OVER the past few months we've had a bit of a mini exodus from Newport's Labour group, with a small handful of members either being chucked out or leaving of their own accord.

And a meeting held last week for people interested in running in next year's council elections under an Independent ticket was apparently well attended, suggesting we there's support at least for the idea of larger non-party group of councillors.

Some of those who've indicated they are planning on putting their names forward running as an Independent next year are already well-known faces in the city, not to mention the pages of this fine publication, so you'd expect them to make a good showing based on personal popularity alone, and the extra element of not aligning with a political party might be enough to push at least some of them over the top.

There's certainly something to be said for removing the element of party politics from local government, so Debbie Wilcox's Labour group could be in for an upset in May.

Of course, there's also the possibility the bid will backfire, and chip away at Labour's share of the vote just enough to give Matthew Evans' Tory group enough to take control.

Either way next May will be an interesting time at the Civic Centre.

NEWPORT West MP Paul Flynn's brief return to the front benches of Parliament is over.

The 81-year-old made a surprise appearance at the despatch box in June after the majority of Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet quit. Taking on the roles of shadow Welsh secretary and shadow leader of the house, the veteran MP has himself been frank that he is under no illusions that he was picked from a fairly limited pool of members still loyal to the embattled leader and has said he agreed to take on the jobs to avoid an empty bench.

So he must have sighed in relief when the roles were reassigned last week.

Although many are drawn to the front lines of politics, Mr Flynn has always prided himself as a perennial backbencher, giving him the chance to take on some less mainstream causes such as the legalisation of cannabis.

And it's served him well, helping him win his seat in no less than seven General Elections since he first stepped into Parliament in 1987.

And there's an argument that not having to worry about ministerial duties gives him more time to deal with constituency issues.

So, while Paul Flynn might be back on the backbenches, it's there he thrives.

STAYING with the reshuffle, it's been a pretty big few weeks for Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds.

In the middle of last month the Labour MP and his wife Rebecca welcomed their third child, William, to the family.

And last week the former barrister was handed the role of shadow solicitor general in Jeremy Corbyn's reshuffle.

Needless to say he's got an awful lot on his plate.

Maybe he should buy stocks in Red Bull?