STEPPING DOWN: Council leader will resign his position on Thursday
Conwy county council’s political boss has confirmed he will resign as leader at the authority’s AGM on Thursday, after winning an unexpected regional seat in the Senedd on Friday.
Councillor Sam Rowlands, a Conservative, ascended to the position of leader in June 2019 after Cllr Gareth Jones lost a vote of no confidence and stepped down as leader in a special meeting of the full council.
Cllr Rowlands, who has been a councillor for 13 years, claimed he was sacked for trying to bring opposition members on the coalition cabinet, before triumphing over Plaid Cymru’s Wyn Ellis to become leader.
He became a regional Senedd Member late on Friday after beating Plaid Cymru’s Wrexham candidate Carrie Harper by just 21 votes under the convoluted d’Hondt system of proportional representation.
The result immediately begged questions about his future on the council.
There had been social media speculation he may stay on as leader until next year’s local elections, despite his new role in Cardiff, but he chose Conwy council’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday to put the record straight.
He said: “It’s an amazing privilege for me personally to be elected as a member of the Senedd representing North Wales, so I’m really looking forward to my five years there representing the region.
“That does mean I’m intending to resign as leader of Conwy county borough council.
“I want to thank Cllr Abdul (Khan) the chairman of the council for accepting an urgent item on Thursday at our annual general meeting to seek the election of a new leader.
“My intention is to resign immediately after the election of a new leader on Thursday.”
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he will remain a councillor for Abergele’s Pentre Mawr ward until next May’s local elections.
Cllr Rowlands thanked his cabinet and the council’s senior officers for their help during his two years at the helm.
He added: “It’s been the privilege of my life to lead this council – and certainly humbled that I was elected to lead this council.
“Over these two years of the pandemic I want to say a specific thank you to everyone for all their efforts through that time, in unprecedented times.
“I really believe and hope we have served our residents to the best of our abilities…have provided essential services through really difficult times.
“If you think back to 12 months ago when supermarket shelves were drying up and people couldn’t access pharmacies for their medical needs, we stepped up and stepped in to make sure our communities were properly supported.”
Deputy leader Cllr Goronwy Edwards said it had been “a privilege” to propose him as leader and work with him before wishing him well in his new role.
The authority’s chief executive Iwan Davies said he couldn’t miss the opportunity to comment on Cllr Rowlands’ win.
He said: “Sam you have been an exceptional leader during these extraordinary times.
“So I want to wish you and your lovely family well on your new adventure.
“This really is a case of Conwy ‘s loss being the Senedd’s and North Wales’ gain.
“Finally I would like to say it’s been my personal and professional privilege to work alongside you for the past two years – best of luck.”
Words: Jez Hemming, Local Democracy Reporter
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