Gwynedd Council

Cyngor Gwynedd
Logo
Type
Type
Leadership
Chair of the Council
Seimon Glyn, Plaid Cymru
since 2021/22
Leader of Council
Dyfrig Siencyn, Plaid Cymru
since 18 May 2017
Deputy Leader of Council
Dafydd Meurig, Plaid Cymru
Leader of the Opposition
Angela Russell, Independent Group
Chief executive
Dafydd Gibbard
since 10 May 2021
Structure
Seats69
Political groups
Administration
  Plaid Cymru (44)
Opposition (25)
  Independent (23)
  Labour (1)
  Liberal Democrats (1)
Length of term
5 years
Elections
First past the post
First election
4 May 1995
Last election
5 May 2022
Next election
6 May 2027
Meeting place
Council Offices, Caernarfon - geograph.org.uk - 807039.jpg
Council Offices, Caernarfon
Website
www.gwynedd.llyw.cymru

Gwynedd Council (Welsh: Cyngor Gwynedd) is the governing body for the principal area of Gwynedd, one of the subdivisions of Wales within the United Kingdom. The Council administrates internally using the Welsh language.[1]

Creation of the Authority

The present local government area of Gwynedd is made up of the ancient counties of Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire. These counties alongside Anglesey were merged in 1974 to create a much larger local government area called "Gwynedd" after the medieval kingdom of the same name. The governing body of this area was called Gwynedd County Council and was based at County Hall in Caernarfon.[2]

The present governing body was formed following the local government reorganisation in Wales in 1996 which recommended the separation of Anglesey, the abolition of Gwynedd and the creation of the new "County of Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire". This proposal was clearly unpopular because one of the first acts of this new authority was to rename itself Gwynedd Council. The first elections were held in 1995.

Second home controversy

Controversy erupted in mid-winter 2001 when Seimon Glyn, Gwynedd Council's housing committee chairman and Plaid Cymru member, voiced frustration over "English immigrants" moving into traditionally Welsh speaking communities.[3] Glyn was commenting on a report underscoring the dilemma of rocketing house prices outstripping what locals could pay, with the report warning that "...traditional Welsh communities could die out..." as a consequence.[4]

In 2001 nearly a third of all purchases of properties in Gwynedd were by buyers from out of the county, with some communities reporting as many as a third of local homes used as holiday homes.[5][6] Holiday home owners typically spend less than six months of the year in the local community.

The issue of locals being priced out of the local housing market is common to many rural communities throughout Britain, but in Wales the added dimension of language further complicates the issue, as many new residents do not learn the Welsh language.[5][7][8][9]

Concerned for the Welsh language under these pressures, Glyn said "Once you have more than 50% of anybody living in a community that speaks a foreign language, then you lose your indigenous tongue almost immediately".[10] His comments attracted strong criticism of Plaid Cymru from other national parties.[10]

By spring 2002 both the Snowdonia National Park (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Arfordir Penfro) authorities began limiting second home ownership within the parks, following the example set by Exmoor.[11] According to planners in Snowdonia and Pembroke applicants for new homes must demonstrate a proven local need or the applicant must have strong links with the area.

Anti-Semitism accusations

In 2014, the council passed a motion which called for a trade embargo with Israel and was subsequently accused of Anti-Semitism by the organisation Jewish Human Rights Watch. Jewish Human Rights Watch won the right to a judicial review of Cyngor Gwynedd's decision, but their claim was dismissed by the High Court in June 2016.[12]

Emergence of Llais Gwynedd

In 2008, Llais Gwynedd or Voice of Gwynedd, a previously unheard of regionalist pressure group won several seats on Gwynedd Council. It demanded an end to cutbacks in rural areas threatening schools, a relaxation of planning controls, action to provide rural employment and calls for more to be done to protect Gwynedd's "unique cultural, linguistic and social fabric".[citation needed]

Governance

Main article: Gwynedd Council elections

Since July 2011, Gwynedd Council has been governed by a Plaid Cymru administration. Plaid currently have the largest grouping of councillors within the council. Plaid councillor Dyfrig Siencyn is currently the leader of the council.[13]

Full council elections took place every four years, though since 2017 they will take place every five years, to avoid a clash with the Wales Senedd elections.[14]

Current composition

As of 5 May 2022:[15]

Group affiliation Members
Plaid Cymru 44
Independent 23
Labour 1
Liberal Democrats 1
 Total
69

Party with majority control in bold

The May 2017 election in the Hendre ward resulted in a "historic" tie, with the Plaid Cymru and Independent candidates each winning 132 votes. The Independent candidate was declared the winner, after a name was drawn from a pot by the returning officer.[16]

Historic results

Year Seats Plaid Cymru Independent Labour Liberal Democrats Llais Gwynedd Notes
2022 69 44 23 1 1 0 Plaid Cymru majority controlled
2017 69 41 26 1 1 6 Plaid Cymru majority controlled
2012 74 37 18 2 4 13 Plaid Cymru majority controlled
2008 72 35 16 5 4 12
2004 75 41 17 7 10 0 Plaid Cymru majority controlled
1999 83 43 22 6 12 0 Plaid Cymru majority controlled

Party with the most elected councillors in bold. Coalition agreements in Notes column

A by-election for Diffwys and Maenofferen was held in July 2010 and Llais Gwynedd narrowly held the seat.

Further by-elections in the Bowydd a Rhiw, held in September 2010, and Seiont, held in October 2010, led to a Plaid Cymru gain from Llais Gwynedd and a Llais Gwynedd gain from Independent respectively.

A by-election for the vacant Arllechwedd ward was held in June 2011, resulting in a Plaid Cymru gain from the Liberal Democrats.[17] The Glyder ward was also vacant at the same time, after the death of the Plaid Cymru councillor. Plaid Cymru held the seat in the by-election held in July 2011,[18] allowing the party to gain full control of the council with 38 seats, one seat being vacant at the time.

By-elections held for the Diffwys a Maenofferen and Penrhyndeudraeth wards in September 2011 resulted in a gain for Plaid Cymru over Llais Gwynedd and a Plaid Cymru hold respectively. This ensured Plaid Cymru's control of the council, with no seat vacancies.[19]

Electoral divisions, areas and committees

The council operates a decentralised system of administration, with three area committees:

Electoral divisions

Electoral divisions in Gwynedd
Electoral divisions in Gwynedd

Main article: List of electoral wards in Gwynedd

Since 2004 the county borough has been divided into 71 electoral wards returning 75 councillors.[20] There are a number of elected community councils in the region. The following table lists council wards, communities and associated geographical areas. Communities with a community council are indicated with a '* ':

Arfon
Ward Communities (Parishes) Other geographic areas
Arllechwedd
Bethel Llanddeiniolen* (Bethel ward)
Bontnewydd Bontnewydd*
Cadnant Caernarfon (town)* (Dwyrain ward)
Cwm-y-glo Llanrug* (Ceunant and Cwm-y-glo wards)
Deiniol Bangor (city)* (Deiniol ward)
Deiniolen Llanddeiniolen* (Clwt y Bont, Deiniolen and Dinorwig wards)
Dewi Bangor (city)* (Dewi ward)
Garth Bangor (city)* (Garth Ward)
Gerlan Bethesda (town)* (Gerlan and Rachub wards)
Glyder Bangor (city)* (Glyder ward)
Groeslon Llandwrog* (Dinas Dinlle and Groeslon wards)
Hendre Bangor (city)* (Hendre ward)
Hirael Bangor (city)* (Hirael ward)
Llanberis Llanberis*
Llanllyfni Llanllyfni* (Llanllyfni, Nantlle and Nebo wards)
Llanrug Llanrug* (Llanrug ward)
Llanwnda Llanwnda*
Marchog Bangor (city)* (Marchog ward)
Menai (Bangor) Bangor (city)* (Menai ward )
Menai (Caernarfon) Caernarfon (town)* (Menai ward)
Ogwen Bethesda* (Ogwen ward)
Peblig Caernarfon (town)* (Deheuol ward)
Penisarwaun Llanddeiniolen* (Brynrefail, Penisarwaun and Rhiwlas wards)
Pentir Pentir*
Penygroes Llanllyfni* (Penygroes ward)
Seiont Caernarfon (town)* (Gorllewin ward)
Talysarn
Tregarth and Mynydd Llandygai Llandygai* (St Ann's and Tregarth wards)
Waunfawr
Y Felinheli Y Felinheli*
Dwyfor
Ward Communities (Parishes) Other geographic areas
Aberdaron Aberdaron*
Abererch Llannor* (Abererch and Y Ffôr wards)
Abersoch Llanengan* (Abersoch ward)
Botwnnog Botwnnog*
Clynnog Fawr Clynnog*
Criccieth Criccieth*
Dolbenmaen Dolbenmaen* (Bryncir, Garn, Golan, Penmorfa and Treflys wards)
Efailnewydd/Buan
  • Buan*
  • Llannor* (Efail-newydd and Pentre-uchaf wards)
Llanaelhaearn
Llanbedrog Llanbedrog*
Llanengan Llanengan* (Llanengan and Llangian wards)
Llanystumdwy Llanystumdwy
Morfa Nefyn Nefyn (town)* (Edern and Morfa Nefyn wards)
Nefyn Nefyn (town)* (Nefyn ward)
Porthmadog - Tremadog
Porthmadog East Porthmadog (town)* (East and Ynys Galch wards)
Porthmadog West Porthmadog (town)* (Gest, Morfa Bychan and West wards)
Pwllheli South Pwllheli (town)* (South ward)
Pwllheli North Pwllheli (town)* (North ward)
Tudweiliog Tudweiliog*
Meirionnydd
Ward Communities (Parishes) Other geographic areas
Aberdyfi
Barmouth Barmouth (Town)*
Bala Bala (Town)*
Bowydd and Rhiw Ffestiniog* (Bowydd and Rhiw and Tanygrisiau wards)
Brithdir and Llanfachreth/Y Ganllwyd/Llanelltyd
Corris/Mawddwy
Diffwys and Maenofferen Ffestiniog* (Diffwys and Maenofferen ward)
Dolgellau (North) Dolgellau (town)* (Northern and Rural wards)
Dolgellau (South) Dolgellau (town)* (Southern ward)
Dyffryn Ardudwy Dyffryn Ardudwy*
Harlech and Talsarnau
Llanbedr
Llandderfel
Llangelynnin
Llanuwchllyn
Bryncrug / Llanfihangel
Penrhyndeudraeth
Teigl Ffestiniog* (Conglywal and Cynfal and Teigl wards)
Trawsfynydd
Tywyn Tywyn*

2018 boundary review

A report by the Boundary Commission for Wales was put to the Welsh Government for approval in November 2018. If agreed it would reduce the numbers of county councillors to 69, elected from 65 wards. It would particularly affect the city of Bangor, blamed on the low voter registration of the university students.[21]

References

  1. ^ Morris, Delyth (1 July 2010). Welsh in the Twenty-First Century. University of Wales Press. ISBN 9781783164110.
  2. ^ "County Court (former County Hall), Caernarfon, Gwynedd". British listed buildings. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Plaid bids to defuse 'racism' row". 21 February 2001 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  4. ^ "'Racist' remarks lost Plaid votes". 3 September 2001 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  5. ^ a b "Apology over 'insults' to English". 19 January 2001 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  6. ^ "BBC News | Wales | Plaid calls for second home controls". news.bbc.co.uk.
  7. ^ "BBC News | SCOTLAND | Double tax for holiday home owners". news.bbc.co.uk.
  8. ^ "Controls on second homes reviewed". 5 September 2001 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  9. ^ "Gwynedd considers holiday home curb". 9 April 2002 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  10. ^ a b "Plaid plan 'protects' rural areas". 19 June 2001 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  11. ^ "Park to ban new holiday homes". 6 March 2002 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  12. ^ "Anti-Semitic councils claim dismissed". 28 June 2016 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  13. ^ Crump, Eryl (9 May 2017). "Plaid Cymru in Gwynedd choose new council leader". northwales. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  14. ^ Mosalski, Ruth (24 September 2019). "The date of the next council elections in Wales has moved". Wales Online. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  15. ^ Your Councillors by Party, Gwynedd Council. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  16. ^ Arron Evans (5 May 2017). "Local Elections: Arfon results". North Wales Chronicle. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Arllechwedd By-election: 16 June 2011". Gwynedd Council. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  18. ^ "Plaid candidate in narrow Glyder by-election victory". Bangor and Anglesey Mail. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  19. ^ Bodden, Tom (1 October 2011). "By-election wins hand Plaid Cymru overall control in Gwynedd". Daily Post. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  20. ^ "The County of Gwynedd (Electoral Changes) Order 2002 - Schedule". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. 6 December 2002. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Gwynedd set to lose councillors in ward boundary shake-up". North Wales Live. 10 November 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2019.