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FOOTBALLERS entering the knock-out phase of a competition practise penalties in case of a draw after extra time, but it would be unusual for politicians to work on coin-tossing in the event of a tie in an election. It’s always going to be a fifty-fifty call.

But the dreaded heads or tails call occurred in Carmarthenshire last Friday when council election candidates David Darkin and Philip Warlow couldn’t be separated after the count.

Both Labour candidates were vying for the third seat in Llanelli’s Bigwyn ward. Some consolation then, that Labour took the seat?

“It’s fantastic,” said gracious loser Mr Darkin. “We won two out of three seats, and I know Philip will do a fantastic job for the ward.”

Architect Mr Darkin, 39, said he and his Labour colleague had been watching the count.

“The voting patterns were bonkers,” he said. “We were struggling to make heads or tails of it.”

Some time later he and Mr Warlow were informed, after recounts, that they polled the same number of votes. A coin toss it was.

“It’s the only fair way to decide it,” said Mr Darkin. “Whoever is listed first on the ballot paper calls it – I chose heads and it was tails.”

Plaid Cymru is still the largest party in the county with 38 out of 75 seats. Labour has 23, and Independents 14. The results were similar to the 2017 election, but a tremor was felt in the ward of Llannon when council leader Emlyn Dole was unseated.

Among the particular tight contests were the new Carmathen Town and North and South ward, where the top six candidates polled between 1,188 and 971 votes. The three councillor seats were bagged by Plaid Cymru, leaving Labour with nothing to show for their efforts. Only six votes separated incumbent councillor Alun Lenny and Labour’s Nia Maynard.

Cllr Lenny, who is standing down as chairman of the council’s planning committee for family reasons, said he wasn’t surprised it was so close.

“I was a member of the old Carmarthen Town South, which was a small ward,” he said. “The North ward was a real Labour heartland in days gone by.”

He said Nia Maynard and her candidate father Mike Maynard being well known in the area, combined with Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford having attended school in Carmarthen, “put wind in their sails, but not quite enough”.

Cllr Lenny added: “There were 4,000 doors to knock on and we did most of them in the run-up to the election. It was a hard-fought campaign.”

There were some close calls in the Amman Valley, with Plaid’s Glynog Davies holding his seat in Cwarter Bach by 18 votes from Labour’s Tom Addey.

Plaid also fended off Labour by a narrow margin in Ammanford to take both seats, but lost their incumbent David Jenkins in Glanamman to Labour’s Emyr Rees.

In Llanelli’s two-seat Tyisha ward, Plaid’s Terry Davies avenged his loss to Labour’s Andre McPherson in 2017 – fairly comfortably in fact – while Labour’s Suzy Curry retained her seat and polled the most votes.

Cllr Lenny said: “I’m very pleased Terry Davies was elected in Tyisha. He lives in the ward, and after the work we (Plaid) have done there – investing millions – I think there was justice in his election.”

Carmarthenshire Labour leader Rob James described his party’s performance as “okay”.

He said: “Just a few votes decided the fate of a few seats. We were hoping for more, around 27 if I’m honest.”

Asked if the loss of a seat in Tyisha was a surprise, Cllr James said: “Yes and no. The three areas of Tyisha, Llwynhendy and Glanymor (Llanelli) have had Labour councillors but people have voted for other parties in the past. They are not staunch Labour-voting areas – there’s always a bit of turbulence.”

Cllr James, who retained his Lliedi seat in Llanelli, paid tribute to his departing colleague, Mr McPherson.

“He was a fantastically hard-working councillor so we are disappointed he didn’t win on this occasion,” he said. “I am sure he has a strong future ahead of him.”

Plaid Cymru councillor Darren Price has been appointed party leader following Mr Dole’s defeat, and is expected to be ratified as the new council leader later this month.

Cllr Price said: “If my nomination is ratified by the full council I will reach out to members, irrespective of political persuasions, so that we can work together for the good of Carmarthenshire.”

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