Wales politics

Bridgend councillors quit Tory party after 'internal' row

Bridgend council sign
Image caption Bridgend councillors quit the Tory group shortly before a motion condemning the UK-government's electrification u-turn was debated

Three Bridgend councillors have quit the council's Conservative group after an "internal" row.

Bridgend Tory group leader councillor Ken Watts, Alex Williams and Julia Williams resigned from the local party on Wednesday.

Hendre ward councillor Ms Williams said they resigned due to an "internal group matter".

A Conservative spokeswoman said the councillors' decision was "disappointing."

The three councillors submitted their resignations during a full council meeting on Wednesday night, before a Labour motion condemning the UK government's decision to scrap rail electrification beyond Cardiff to Swansea was due to be discussed.

The motion, passed by the council, said not carrying out the rail upgrade was "a betrayal of the people of Bridgend".

Ms Williams supported the motion, Mr Watts, abstained, while Mr Williams did not vote as he was on holiday.

'Absolute freefall'

She said: "I am 100% for the motion, but that is not why we resigned, people think that is why because I went against the party line, but that is not why."

Ms Williams, who intends to sit as an independent councillor, said: "I did speak out in favour of the motion, why wouldn't I? My constituency would be affected greatly by the decision to stop the electrification to Swansea.

"At the end of the day I was elected to represent the people of Hendre and Pencoed, I am nothing to do with the Conservative party."

Labour MP for Ogmore, Chris Elmore said the Bridgend council Tory group was in "absolute freefall".

"It's clear that many Conservative councillors have begun to oppose the Westminster Party's attitude towards Wales in recent months but this is beyond chaotic with the group leader and two senior councillors resigning," he said.

A Conservative spokeswoman said: "Welsh Conservatives in Bridgend are stronger together in opposition at scrutinising the Labour administration.

"The direction the three councillors in question have taken is disappointing."

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