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NOW that the list of candidates for the Merthyr Tydfil Council election has been announced it’s as good a time as any to look at the political make up and potential key seats going into the May poll.

Heading into the vote, the council’s political make-up had the leading independent group with nine councillors while the opposition Labour group had 15.

The newly formed community independents had five, there were two Park and Dowlais independent councillors and one independent member.

With several councillors due to stand down, the Local Democracy Reporting Service takes a look at the wards which have seen a change since the last election.

There are 72 candidates standing for the 30 seats which include 31 independents, 29 Labour, eight Plaid Cymru, two Conservative, one Green Party and one unallocated candidate.

In the 2017 election, the independents took control of the council from Labour with 18 seats ahead of Labour’s 15.

The Cyfarthfa ward election took place in June that year because of the death of a candidate so the final result was delayed but resulted in there being 18 independent councillors and 15 Labour.

Following the review of council wards from the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales which was agreed to by Welsh Government, there are now 30 as opposed to the previous 33 seats up for grabs.

The largest ward is Town ward where there are four seats to be filled with 12 candidates standing including former leader Kevin O’Neill, independent, and former cabinet member Andrew Barry, independent, who both joined a new group on a council called the community independents.

Two others are standing for re-election here including Dai Jones of Labour and John Thomas independent.

The other candidates for town ward are Martin Eaglestone of Labour, Leighton Evans of Plaid Cymru, Ian Gwynne of Plaid Cymru, independent Julia Jenkins, Rose Maycock of Labour, Kelly McCarthy of Labour, Shaun O’Malley of Plaid Cymru and Vivian Pugh of Plaid Cymru.

In terms of the wards that have changed, the Dowlais and Pant ward which previously had four councillors will now have three.

The candidates here include those re-standing such as independent David Hughes who has served on the cabinet and joined the recently formed community independents and independent Declan Sammon who also joined the new community independents group on the council.

The other candidates are Sara Beard of Labour, James Cushen of Plaid Cymru, independent Paula Layton, Richard Owen of Labour, independent Jane Plowright and Simon Williams of Labour.

Gurnos has also seen a change with a reduction from four to three councillors this time round.

Candidates standing for re-election here include independents Jeremy Davies and Lee Davies and Bill Smith of Labour.

The other candidates in Gurnos are Gav Galleozzie of Labour, independent Pauline Griffiths, Sue Patman nee Williams of Labour and independent Tony Williams

And the third ward which has seen a change in the number of councillors it will be electing this time round is Park.

Instead of the three it elected back in 2017 it will now be electing two councillors.

Clive Jones of Labour is standing for re-election in this ward with the three other candidates being independent Jason Launchbury, Louise Minett Vokes of Labour and independent Janet Morgan.

The wards where councillors are standing down could be ones to look out for.

Those standing down include Tanya Skinner who represented Park ward and Sherelle Jago who represented Bedlinog and Trelewis.

Others not re-standing include Chris Barry of Park ward, Tony Rogers of Dowlais and Pant and Harvey Jones of Plymouth ward.

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