Challenging start for Conwy Council’s new leader

THE newly elected Conwy County Council could face a challenging few months as nearly half of the council are newbies, says an experienced councillor. Twenty-six of Conwy’s 54 councillors are new to the role.

Re-elected leader Cllr Charlie McCoubrey announced his cabinet would be made up of six independent members, two Welsh Labour, and two Plaid Cymru – with Labour’s Cllr Emily Owen as deputy.

Conwy has said the council is providing an ‘intensive induction programme’ for new members, including training.

But due to the massive overhaul, some councillors expect new members to face an initial learning curve, which could have an impact on the decision-making process.

Cllr Anne McCaffrey has served on the council for 10 years and commented: “There are a lot of newbies There is certainly going to be a period of transition where people don’t understand the role they’ve got and how they can exercise influence.

“People think they pledge to do x, y and z, and then they realise they are just one of 54 councillors.”

But Cllr Goronwy Edwards is the cabinet member for environment, roads, facilities and infrastructure and believed the new blood could reinvigorate the council.

“There has been an awful lot of training,” he said.

“The council will have put out a massive amount of information for councillors every day since the election, training sessions once or twice a day, all about the roles of councillors.

“There is a lot of information. Some members have got community council background, which is helpful. I’m looking forward to it as it is a lot of new input and young members coming up.”

Cllr Edwards said delaying a return to the chamber could slow the learning process but said he was pleased councillors were finally returning for face-to-face meetings, rather than relying on remote Zoom calls.

“It’s going to change, and hopefully, we are going to go back to normality. If we don’t get back to meeting live, that will prolong the period of how things work,” he said.

“They’ll have to find out if they can work from home with good connectivity or if they have to come into the chamber. The option will be there.”

A spokeswoman for Conwy County Council commented: “The role and responsibilities of a councillor is demanding, and anyone who stands for election will be aware of the commitment involved in representing their communities.

“For this reason, we provide an extensive programme of induction training and on-going support.

“It is challenging, but it is also an opportunity, and we were aware that there would be a big turnover in Conwy, because we knew in advance that 20 Councillors were retiring.”

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno