The “evolving” composition of Aberystwyth Town Council these days is worthy of some attention. In May 2017 six Liberal Democrats were elected in the Penparcau, Rheidol and Central wards, the largest opposition grouping to Plaid Cymru.

Tragically after those elections one of those newly elected councillors Emily Price lost her life, a huge loss to her family and many others. An election was not called for and the council decided on co option.Surprisingly so soon after the election which Emily had won, Plaid used their majority to co-opt one of their own.

There was nothing inappropriate about the co-option process,and I have a high regard for her replacement, but what was wrong was when this approach was used in this way, flying in the face of the democratic will of the people in the earlier election.

Roll on to two weeks ago, and this happens again! Two Liberal Democrat councillors leave the council. Ex-mayor Brenda Haines retires and Michael Chappell leaves the area. Another Plaid member leaves also. No election is called for, co-option again, and a full three Plaid councillors are appointed, using a Plaid majority to remove two Liberal Democrat places on the council. So in four years, Plaid Cymru members, not the electorate have reduced the principal opposition by three!

Town and community councillors are not always overtly party political, but in Aberystwyth, since the last years of the Borough, elections have been characterised by partisan contests.

I have the utmost respect for all those who seek public office, regardless of party. You take the rough with the smooth, the highs and the lows, the victories and defeats. I respect all those who wish to serve their community.

An election in a pandemic is far from ideal. The co-option process that has been used is perfectly legal (though I believe should be reformed).

But what is not acceptable is one political party using its majority to take advantage of council vacancies to shore up its support.A little more respect for the voters in the wards affected would not gone amiss.

Mark Williams President, Ceredigion Liberal Democrats

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