Two outspoken Blackwood councillors have resigned from Caerphilly Council’s Labour group with an attack on council leader Keith Reynolds.
Councillors Nigel Dix and Allan Rees have also resigned from the Labour Party following the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as its UK leader, and plan to set up their own political party.
Cllr Rees, who has represented Blackwood for Labour since 2014, hit out at the way the Caerphilly group was run, claiming council leaders relied too much on officers, and that “nepotism and cronyism” were rife within the group.
Council leader Keith Reynolds has labelled the claims “a load of rubbish”.
In his statement, Cllr Rees said: “It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve decided to leave the Labour Party after nearly six years as a member.
“If Welsh Labour was a political party in its own right I’d probably stay. Being a social worker I see how the policies of a Welsh Labour government protect vulnerable people.
“Jeremy Corbyn, in my view, is likely to hand a larger majority to the Tories and I worry for all the people in need of help and support under their government.
“People will suffer because of Corbyn and [Shadow Chancellor] John McDonnell.
“I’m also very disaffected by how the Caerphilly Labour group is run.
“Nepotism and cronyism is rife. The majority of the cabinet currently in place have been around for close to 15 years propping up a leadership that’s too dependent on paid executives’ advice and direction.
“You can’t shift them. They have their cosy positions, which I think are more ceremonial than fulfilling the role they are supposed to.
“The council’s Labour cabinet is far from diverse or representative of the local population and, combined in age, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the oldest cabinet in Wales.
“It’s not how much potential or talent you have in the Caerphilly Labour group, it’s how subservient you are and that you won’t rock the boat.
“There’s so much potential there with the other councillors in group, but Cllr Reynolds and his gang have a grip on it for their own means and they’ll never let go.
“It definitely fits the councillor stereotype of ‘job’s for the boys’ and it’s a poor reflection on local government.
“This is why I want to bring in a fresh new approach to local government politics and run as an independent for Blackwood with my colleague Cllr Nigel Dix. We hope to set up our own political party called Caerphilly County Independent Councillors with the slogan ‘People before Party Politics’.
“So if you a moderate and centre left democratic socialist inclined individual, who wishes to stand for one of the 73 council seats as an independent, Cllr Dix and myself would like to hear from you.”
Responding to the claims, council leader Keith Reynolds said: “What he is talking about is a load of rubbish. I have heard it before in emails and it is nothing new to me – I won’t even dignify that with any kind of response whatsoever.
“Allan Rees has very rarely attended group meetings.”
He added: “If the criticism he has levelled at me, and the Labour group, came from someone with any credibility within the group, I would be concerned about it. But not from someone who’s been there for a short time and someone who hasn’t bothered attending group meetings.
“The right place to raise these concerns is in the group, which he has never done. It’s one thing to do that, but another to run to the press with these statements.
“I’m not concerned and I stand by my record of 38 years as a councillor.”