THE new leader of Merthyr Tydfil Council has spoken of her pride in taking on the role and what she aims to do in the coming months.
Councillor Lisa Mytton, independent councillor the Vaynor ward and cabinet member for education was voted in as the new leader at a special full council meeting on Wednesday, January 20.
She steps into the role after Councillor Kevin O’Neill was handed a seven-month suspension by the Adjudication Panel for Wales for breaching the council’s code of conduct.
Cllr Mytton has been a councillor in Merthyr Tydfil for 13 years, serving as mayor in 2012 and has been the cabinet member for education for almost four years.
She was elected in 2008 after campaigning to save a community field and is the council’s longest-serving female councillor.
She said she’s never really been that politically ambitious as for her it has always been about the community.
She said it’s a “very proud moment for me albeit I wish it was in different circumstances.
“However I’ve had the full support of everybody in the independent group and pleasingly as well from all my opposition colleagues when the vote went to council so that was a lovely moment for me.
“I think it hasn’t quite sunk in because being on (Microsoft) Teams is slightly different to being in the chamber.”
But she said when it sunk in she reflected on the fact that she had been mayor previously and is now the first female independent leader.
Speaking about the situation with Covid-19, Cllr Mytton said she wants to lead the way and be at the forefront in the communication to residents.
She said: “More than anything I think at this point while we’re still in a lockdown it’s making sure that they feel reassured and trying to, as much as I can really, lessen the anxiety about the vaccinations as well.”
She said a lot of people have been in touch with her saying their relatives who are over 80 haven’t heard yet about their neighbours who are under 80 have been vaccinated.
Cllr Mytton said it’s about managing those expectations of everybody and reassuring them that they’ve got the four priority groups.
“I have weekly Cwm Taf health board meetings. We’re having really good frank dialogue together. Where we felt it needed ramping up last week we said that quite bluntly.
“And as a leader, that’s what I need to do. If I feel something needs to be done or somebody needs to be taking to task on something then it’s about having that open dialogue to say look guys we need to have this up.”
“I have to say the health board have been very supportive.”
She mentioned the opening of the mass vaccination centre last week and wanted to reassure people that they’re going to get a phone call from the surgery or they’re going to get a letter.
She said so far they are on target and they are aiming to get the priority groups done by the middle of February before moving on to the wider population with targets for Spring and early Summer.
“For me as a leader, it’s about making sure that I’m there and I’m communicating that out to people.”
Turning to her aims and ambitions for Merthyr post-pandemic, she said it’s in two parts.
Firstly she said it’s about bringing everyone slowly out of the pandemic to get people back into work and getting hospitality and other businesses back open as well as getting children back to face to face learning.
And mixed in with that she said they’ve got their transformation journey which never stops with the bus station keeping ongoing throughout the pandemic as well as the Ysgol y Graig School development so these targets are still on track.
“The assurance board came in and were very supportive last year and they’re continuing to support us on the journey.
“I’m super excited for that because I think coming out of the Spring into the Summer with the bus station opening, Ysgol y Graig a new 21st Century school opening, two great things to be really proud of and give us a sense of community again and a little sense of happiness again and a little light at the end of the tunnel.”
She also said she wants to get that active Merthyr back up and running with heritage and tourism and Bike Park Wales.
On the Cyfarthfa Plan, she said it’s mind-blowing and really exciting adding: “Well that blows me away anyway. I am so so proud to be part of that.”
She said: “Again my job as a leader is to promote that, get that out there to the people, give them a little bit of confidence, give them something to be motivated and excited about as well as we slowly move out of this pandemic.
“It’s not going to be easy but together we can do it in Merthyr. We’ve got some strong people out there, some passionate people, and I know we’ll do it together definitely.”