A MEMBER of the Labour Party in Neath Port Talbot has resigned to become an Independent alleging the local branch of the party has a “culture that prevents people from trying to speak out.”
Councillor Angharad Aubrey of Coedffranc Central was re-elected to her seat for the Labour party in 2022. She announced at a council meeting on October 4, that she had resigned from the Labour Group and would now become Independent.
In a statement made at the monthly meeting, Cllr Aubrey said she felt she had been shunned by the local Skewen branch for speaking out for her residents and felt it was now too difficult for her to continue to support the party.
She said: “Recently I have made the decision to leave the Labour Party. I have been a Labour Party County Councillor for six years and I have always aimed to represent residents from Coedffranc Central in the best possible way.
“I enjoy helping others and dedicate a lot of time to the community in which I am a resident myself. Although my experience in politics has been aggressive, the lack of vision and inactivity in the local Skewen branch is extremely disappointing.
“A certain culture has been allowed to continue despite being raised through the appropriate channels and the National Labour Party Disputes Team. It was becoming difficult to continue to support the Labour Party, and after careful consideration I made the decision to leave.
“In the Skewen Branch of the Labour Party there is a culture that prevents people from trying to speak out or challenge certain things. Whilst I understand that politics can be challenging, I believe that it is unacceptable to receive regular abuse or intimidation in any shape or form as a local representative.”
Following the statement both councillors Helen Ceri Clarke and Nathan Goldup-John of the Coedffranc Liberal and Green group welcomed the move, with Cllr Clarke saying: “I just wanted to make a stetement welcoming councillor Aubrey to our group, and know that as a group we work together to do the best we can for the Coedffranc area.”
In response, Labour members said the news of the departure was unfortunate, though added that not everyone felt as though they had the same negative experiences.
Cllr Dennis Keogh said: “I’m sorry that Angharad feels this way. It’s certain our recollection and her recollection are quite different. I’m not saying there weren’t difficulties, there are difficulties within the Labour Party, we’re human. What I will say to her is this, I genuinely hope she finds happiness. I genuinely hope she finds peace, because she didn’t find it within the Labour party.”
Labour Leader for Neath Port Talbot Rob Jones added: “All I can say is that Councillor Aubrey left the Labour Party of her own volition, and that there were outstanding matters that were being looked at by the party that remained unresolved to councillor Aubrey’s satisfaction.”
The move could now be viewed as a further blow to the Labour group in the borough, after they lost control of the council in 2022, with a coalition of Independent members since coming together with the majority of seats.
The latest resignation means the party will lose an additional seat, with the authority now consisting of 19 Independent members, 12 Plaid Cymru members, 26 Labour members, two Welsh Liberal Democrat members, and one Green Party member.