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Cardiff Council leader Phil Bale survives vote of no confidence

Cardiff Council leader Phil Bale kept his position last night as the vote of no confidence against him was defeated – but the opposition aired concerns about Labour not having a free vote.

The initial notice of motion was proposed by Councillor Craig Williams and seconded by Councillor Woodman on Thursday, February 28, after the budget meeting and was signed by 24 councillors.
Councillor Williams, representing Pentyrch, who proposed the motion, spoke of a split in the Labour group and the decision to have a Whip on this vote: “I wish everyone would vote today what they say in private. You [the Labour group] need to unite behind your leader or change your leader.
“There are people expecting really great services that you are responsible for. There are businesses looking for leadership from the capital city and all we have seen time and time again is indecision and a party that is split, not once or twice, but three or four times.
“To stand up and try and deny that is a joke.”
City Hall, where Thursday's vote will take place. (Source: Wikipedia)

City Hall, where last night’s vote of no confidence in Cardiff Council leader Phil Bale was defeated (Source: Wikipedia)

Coun Woodman, who seconded the motion, branded last week’s budget meeting a “shameful and scandalous fiasco” and said the council’s reputation was in “tatters”.

But an amendment was added to the motion which asked for the leader’s immediate removal from office, proposed by Councillor Holden and seconded by Councillor Sanders.
Before the vote, Coun Bale said: “I am proud of what has been achieved under this Labour administration. Labour has always been ambitious for our capital city and under my leadership always will but this is no easy task.”
Despite Coun Bale managing to win both votes, the amendment then the notice of motion, by 41-27, concerns were raised throughout the meeting that Labour were having to vote along with their Whip.

Cardiff Council leader Phil Bale survived last night’s vote of no confidence

In the debates before the vote, Labour Councillor Russell Goodway, representing Ely, said: “I was angry last Thursday. I did feel my party was humiliated and I know members of the Cabinet felt that way too.

“If we do not acknowledge we have a problem, how on earth can we solve it?”
“I faced a no confidence vote during my leadership. In my case I did not have the luxury of a Whip to protect me.
“I will support the whip this afternoon.”
Speeches from the opposition alluded to a split in the Labour group throughout the meeting.
Councillor Dianne Rees said: “The enemy is not those facing you in the opposition ranks, but the people who are sitting at the side of you.”
Councillor Jayne Cowan said: “They know that last Thursday this leader disintegrated before our very eyes and to the extent that he can never recover.”
Supporters included Councillor De’Ath, who said Cardiff was in the leader’s blood, and Councillor Lent, who said: “Children are safer on Phil’s watch than previously.
Councillor Lent also referred to comments made in the chamber about the leaders of the vote of no confidence motion being the parliamentary candidates for May’s General Election, saying: “What a cheek for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to point the finger at Phil Bale.
“Maybe they should look to their friends in Westminster.”
Labour Ramesh Patel said of Plaid Cymru Councillor Neil McEvoy and Councillor Craig Williams, the parliamentary candidates for May’s General Election, “surprise surprise” they have been so prominent in the motion.
Coun Patel also said the Liberal Democrats were supporting the motion because they were “petrified” of losing Cardiff Central to Labour in May.
Thursday's meeting took place at City Hall. (Source: Wikimedia commons)

Last night’s meeting took place at City Hall. (Source: Wikimedia commons)

 But Coun Bale received a healthy majority in the vote and managed to retain his position.
The meeting began with Coun Bale declaring a “personal but not prejudicial interest” in the vote of no confidence on the agenda, receiving laughter from the chamber.
Coun Bale even called out personal comments about his appearance made by the opposition in the lead up to last night’s meeting and said he would be caught wearing Primark sooner than wearing Prada clothes.
He said: “If it is our fashion sense that defines us, then I won’t be the last one to fall foul of that.”
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Holden said the result was “disappointing but not surprising.
“If a party uses its Whip, then that means the vote goes their way.
“Personally, I like Phil Bale, and I am pleased that he’s still in post and he can move forward hopefully with all his party.
“I don’t think this is the end of the matter. I think there are members within the Labour group who are dissatisfied.
“The members I spoke to have a lot of venom for Phil Bale and I don’t think that will have subsided.”
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