One of Labour’s secret weapons – individually-addressed letters sent to targeted voters in every ward in Penarth . The Conservatives had nothing like this level of sophistication in their tactics.

As the dust settles in the wake of last week’s council elections,  councillors, ex-councillors ,  political activists and party workers have been coming to terms with the results in the Vale of Glamorgan and in Penarth .

One of the main questions being asked how on earth did a Labour Party – led by Jeremy Corbyn –  which has lost hundreds of seats across the UK –  manage to lose only 1 seat on Penarth Town Council?

Another question being posed was just how did the Labour Party in Penarth persuade so many people to vote for candidates they knew virtually nothing about?

In the Labour Party mail-shots there was copious, crystal clear guidance as to how voters should fill in their postal ballot forms but very little information about the Labour candidates themselves

In the Labour party election literature, there was scant information about any of the party’s new candidates, little about their careers or qualifications, nothing about their ages and few had volunteered any information about their employment – or lack of it.

One veteran local councillor grumbled many people, (not least myself), have not a clue as to who some of the candidates are, where they live, their experience and qualifications for office, and perhaps even why they are standing.”

In Penarth Town Council however there was an even more curious phenomenon about the Labour results .

Gone: St Augustine’s  Gwyn Roberts (Labour)

Gone: Neil Thomas (Labour) lost his seat in Cornerswell

On Penarth Town Council , well-established Labour Party councillors – such as former Labour Mayors like Gwyn Roberts and Neil Thomas both lost their seats – and were unceremoniously bundled out of office –  whilst  brand-new ingénue Labour candidates,  bidding to be elected to Penarth Town Council for the very first time, effortlessly out-performed their far more experienced party colleagues by a considerable margin.

New Penarth Town Council Labour councillors Ian Buckley and Laura Rochefort out-performed experienced long-standing Labour councillors (Labour campaign photo)

In Cornerswell Ward, firefighter Ian Buckley – a local born-and-bred Penarthian who is captain of the “Old Pens 2s” – but who has never served on Penarth Council before  – topped the poll with an astonishing 921 votes.

Also in Cornerswell Ward, former Penarth Times journalist Laura Rochefort romped home with 722 votes in third place, just behind the experienced Labour councillor  Rhiannon Birch and – in the process- helped to push out  Penarth Town Council’s Labour planning committee chairman Neil Thomas . [Unbeknownst to Penarth voters,  Ms Rochefort was also simultaneously standing in the Sully Ward for the Vale of Glamorgan Council – a point not mentioned in her Penarth Town Council election literature. She came next to  last in Sully, but nevertheless won a seat on Penarth Town Council. ]

The only consolation for Neil Thomas was that although he lost his Cornerswell seat on Penarth Town Council he did win a salaried seat for St Augustine’s Ward on the Vale of Glamorgan Council . And although he lost in Cornerswell,  he did receive just 16 more votes in that ward than did another loser – Dorothy Turner, chair of the Cardiff South and Penarth Conservative Association.

The Conservative election tactics in Penarth – for which Mrs  Turner would have been partly responsible –  were so confused they appeared to puzzle the other parties…..

Vale Plaid Cymru Leader Dr Ian Johnson give his views on the Conservative debacle on Twitter

Plaid Cymru leader on the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Dr Ian Johnson, just couldn’t fathom why the Conservatives had fielded no less than 4 candidates in Stanwell Ward – when there were only 3 seats in that Ward that were up for grabs.

In a Twitter  message he said the Conservatives had ” stood 4 candidates for a 3-member ward. Unsurprisingly lost #useless”  .

Labour candidate Angela Thomas is taking on the Tories in Penarth’s Plymouth Ward

In fielding 4 candidates in Stanwell, the overall Conservative vote in the ward (1, 332) was diluted by being shared between 4 candidates – at least 1 of whom was utterly superfluous.

This contrasts with the much cannier Labour strategy  – successfully used in Plymouth Ward. Here, newcomer Angela Thomas (right) (no relation to Neil Thomas) was fielded as the ONLY Labour candidate and therefore  garnered  every single Labour vote going in the entire ward (739 in all) . The strategy worked like a dream . She  squeezed in to win the last of the 4 available seats .

PDN attempts to get some sort of explanation from the Penarth Conservative Branch as to why it  fielded too many candidates in Stanwell Ward have so far proved fruitless.

It was a pyrrhic victory for Clive Williams, Leader of the Penarth First Independents

The Conservative party also paid the price for the internal divisions fomented by its clumsy “de-selection” of Cllr Clive Williams MBE in Plymouth Ward and the inroads made in the Conservative vote there, in Stanwell Ward and in St Augustine’s Ward, by his rebel mini-party – the Penarth First Independents.  

Cllr Martin Turner chairman of Penarth Conservative Branch

One of the main motivations of Clive Williams’s Penarth First Independents was revenge. They aimed to stop former Conservative Mayor of Penarth  Martin Turner (chairman of Penarth Conservative Branch) from being elected as a Vale of Glamorgan councillor in St Augustine’s Ward – and in that, they certainly succeeded.

Former Mayor of Penarth Paul Church’s intervention in St Augustine’s stopped Turner in his tracks

The Penarth First Independents fielded veteran former Conservative Mayor of Penarth –  Paul Church –  in St Augustine’s. He received 312 votes which might otherwise have gone to Turner – who polled only 737, thus missed the cut and was denied the seat he wanted on the Vale of Glamorgan Council . Had Turner received those 312 votes he would have been elected.

Instead the Vale Council seats for St Augustine’s Ward went to another unheard-of Labour newcomer Ruba Sivgnanam (977 votes) and Neil Thomas (827) with the Conservative chairman Martin Turner being denied a seat on the Vale Council by coming 3rd with only 737 votes.  Cllr Turner was, however, elected to Penarth Town Council to represent Plymouth Ward     

St Augustine’s Ward  was another part of Penarth where  Labour newcomers again  pushed established Labour councillors down the pecking order.

Penarth’s Mayor and Leader of the Labour Group on Penarth Town Council –  Mike Cuddy –  is flanked by new councillors Yvonne Murphy (left)  and Liz Fahy (right)- both of whom polled better than he did (Photo from Labour election literature)

The Leader of Penarth Town Council and Mayor of Penarth Mike Cuddy had the ignomy of being shoved down into third place on the list beneath Labour council-newcomers, theatrical producer Yvonne Clare Murphy and  LGBT activist Liz Fahy .

Another Labour activist, Nigel Humphrey took 4th place in this 5-seat constituency with Conservative Gary Allman capturing the fifth and last council seat with 943 votes – just a nail-biting  3 votes ahead of former Labour Councillor Gwyn Roberts – who missed the cut and lost his seat.

There now seems little doubt however that  Labour’s strategy of individually-targeted voter-letters (which laid out how voters should complete their postal votes)  worked well and – apart from Conservative internecine squabbles – could have been the  decisive factor in Labour retaining control of Penarth Town Council.

The 16-member Penarth Town Council will now undergo a massive turnover in membership with only 4 members of the previous administration ( Cllr Rhiannon Birch, Cllr Mark Wilson, Cllr Mike Cuddy and  Cllr Martin Turner) hanging on to their seats and 12 new councillors being sworn-in.

The full list of Penarth Town Council results with all the winners – and all the losers – was published on Friday on PDN and can be found on


About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time. Comments posted on the site by commentators reflect their opinions and are not necessarily shared, endorsed or supported by Penarth Daily News.
This entry was posted in Penarth Daily News. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Concerned penarth says:

    Could it be that the conservatives were just unelectable and dont represent the majority of the citizens of Penarth?

  2. Alwyn says:

    Civil war among the Conservatives, Independent ex-Conservatives and Independents can’t have helped.

  3. hopenotnasty says:

    Cardiff south and Penarth constituency polled very well for Labour. Bute town, Grangetown, Llanrumney, Rumney, Splott & Tremforfa, Trowbridge and St. Melons all returned Labour councillors. Then we have Penarth, St Augustines, Stanwell, and Cornerswell again returned Labour councillors.
    The Conservatives won three wards Sully, Plymouth and gained Llandough. The result all goes very well for Stephen Doughty to be returned yet again. The Labour team will be working hard to achieve this result.

  4. hopenotnasty says:

    Sorry Sully was of course won by Independents. So actually the Conservatives only won two wards.

  5. Philip Rapier says:

    In spite of all the incessant attempts and constant interference by the Vale of Glamorgan Councillors.
    Pressure behind the scenes to not make our own decision on Council Tax for fear of to upsetting the Vale Leadership
    Frequent arm twisting by the Far Left i.e.Vale Momentum Group Politburo at the Barry Kremlin we were succesful at expressing and delivering a Progressive Agenda at Penarth Town Council. That is exactly what a Labour Coop motivated Council should do.
    Penarth Town Council did the job as it should be done.
    Cross Party cooperation on all commitees.
    No Politburo style dictatorship (or undue influence from the 74th largest Town in Wales)
    Any disagreements were almost always down to the individuals sincerely held views- not Party dogma.
    The people of Penarth liked it. Voted to give it another go! —Get over it. Please!!
    The Pier and other issues mean we have no time to waste.
    We ALL worked hard please credit the Penarth voters with the common sense they obviously have
    One problem appears to be the Conservative strategy of Tory Boy style dream candidates with a Teresa May style utopian dream of a Grammar School Education.
    Is it my fault they are unable to add up as well as our wonderfully gifted Penarth Comp Students and then engage too many candidates (relatively speaking)

    • Frank Evans says:

      Mr Rapier. Stephen Doughty marched in a free Palestine demonstration under the Socialist Workers banner. He was happy to accept a cabinet post from Jeremy Corbyn.
      Why should ordinary folk in Penarth vote for him?
      We demand better of our MP.

    • The pavilion issue has been an issue, a leadership issue ultimately, from years ago – lets try and speed up the process Vale of Glamorgan new council leader and chief executive – please. Waiting for the meeting date.

  6. Is it true that Phillip Rapier and Nikki Page are both on the committee of the Penarth branch of the Stanley Unwin appreciation society?

  7. Lucie says:

    Or was it a fix!!!!lol

  8. JohnP says:

    We received an election address from the Conservatives in Plymouth ward- only problem was we are in Stanwell ward! Didn’t exactly inspire confidence that they could run a council

  9. The Dairy Farmer says:

    Kevin Mahoney. – absolutely – Lets hope Ms Page and Mr Rapier never meet, as they wouldn’t get a word in edgeways!

  10. snoggerdog says:

    the only surprise for me was ian buckley only got 921 votes !

  11. Tony Harris says:

    Not hard to see why the local Tories put four candidates up for election as they were scared stiff that an Independent would get in. No mystery as far as I know.
    Shame we didn’t but the people have voted and now they have a load of newbe ‘s and Ms Burnett. Well I tried.

  12. Sarah W says:

    I haven’t voted for ‘unknowns’. I voted for Liz Fahy, not because she is a labour candidate, but because at a personal level I trust her. If she had stood under the conservative banner, I would have still voted for her. This is because she is actively involved in her community and has a proven track record of wanting to improve the vicinity for her neighbours. She is prepared to pitch in and is not seeking personal glory. She comes across as being genuine and for that reason I am happy to have her representing me. I know of other neighbours who feel the same, (who ordinarily would vote for other parties). I did not vote for some of the more experienced labour faces because they haven’t taken the time to build this level of relationship with me and I don’t trust them in the same way. I’m much more interested in the personal rather than the political branding.

    • Ann Other says:

      That’s all we’ll and good but it is immoral, is it not, to vote for anyone that might help someone incompetent and dangerous therefore to your fellow citizens – Corbyn, of course – come to power. I’m afraid you are on the moral low ground in this case whatever you think of a particular candidate.

      • Concerned penarth says:

        Ann Other …how can you be so condescending, and blinkered? Local elections are for local representation, they have no influence on Parliament,they are closer to the local electorate who vote for support on issues that effect them in the community…I didnt voite for Fahy but if she represented what the voters wanted, then good luck to her.

      • Sarah W says:

        No it’s not immoral to vote for someone you trust. And of course I’m entitled to my freedom of conscience, thought and right to vote for whoever I think fit – same as you are. If the high ground is full of controlling, moralising finger waggers telling me who to vote for, I’ll sticking with the low ground.

  13. DRT Andrews says:

    Clearly the voters of Penarth have more sense than people on here give them credit for. Couple that with ineptitude on the part of the Tories, in whatever guise, and the results are explained.

  14. Max Wallis says:

    How did independent-minded Phil Rapier lose his St Augustines seat on the Town Council? Inner-party manouvres that told him to apply for Plymouth Ward candidacy – he lives a few metres the wrong side of the ward boundaries.
    Phil loyally writes: “Penarth Town Council did the job as it should be done…. disagreements were almost always down to the individuals sincerely held views- not Party dogma.”. Yet the “job should be done” openly and transparently – not by secret committees of unaccountable individuals with undeclared personal and professional interests.
    PDN reported [] that meetings are held under guises of “working groups”, “sub-committees”, or “panels” – such as the council’s grandiosely-entitled “Strategic Review Group” . There is no publicly-available list of all these groups or their membership.
    The new version of the Standing Orders says “All proceedings of Committees, Sub-Committees, Working Groups or Panels not open to the public shall be treated as confidential. No Member or Officer shall reveal any information which resulted in, or contributed towards decision to exclude the public and the press”. Such a draconian rule to prevent people even knowing the substance of the secret item… a rule framed to keep secret the abuse of “confidentiality”.

    “The people of Penarth liked it. Voted to give it another go!” writes Phil.
    Not so. All polls show that people like and expect transparency. It’s our local pro-Labour newspapers not reporting it and all of the retiring Councillors abetting this affront to democracy.

    “The Pier and other issues mean we have no time to waste” Phil urges. Yet it’s the Labour Party that set up the unaccountable system where PACL is wasting public moneys invested in the Pavilion and the Town Council nominee on PACL won’t tell us about it as his prime responsibility is to PACL as a company. Sully Councillor Kevin Mahoney spoke for the Vale Council taking back the 125-yr lease granted by Labour – let’s hope that he can deliver that if he joins the new administration.

Comments are closed.