PEMBROKESHIRE County Council is expected to elect a new leader, Cllr David Simpson, at its AGM on May 25, after former council leader Jamie Adams withdrew from the contest last Thursday.

Cllr Adams’ Independent Plus Political Group has seen its majority slashed post-election as the make-up of councillor groups was revealed, with only 13 members now in the IPPG – a loss of 20 councillors overall.

The IPPG includes longstanding members Cllrs Jamie Adams, John Davies, Huw George and David Pugh with just one new member joining the group, Hundleton’s Margot Bateman.

Cllr Bateman replaced IPPG stalwart John Allen-Mirehouse who stood down before the election.

As well as those knocked out in the election, such as Keith Lewis and Rob Lewis, the IPPG appears to have lost Cllrs Simon Hancock, Michael John, Pearl Llewellyn and Paul Harries, current vice-chairman of the council.

This now means there are currently 21 councillors considered unaffiliated with any political party.

The vote for leader of the council was to be held on May 25 with unaffiliated Lampeter Velfrey councillor David Simpson standing against Cllr Adams.

The way forward for Cllr Simpson now appears unopposed.

With 60 men and women making up the council a majority of 31 is needed to be elected leader.

First to back Cllr Simpson were the Labour group and its seven members, followed by Plaid Cymru with six members.

The Conservative group, with 12 members, also announced it would back the leadership bid, as did Cllr Bob Kilmister of the Liberal Democrats.

At least five of the unaffiliated councillors said they are backing Cllr Simpson’s bid.

These votes alone would give Cllr Simpson a majority of 31 and would allow him to create a new Cabinet.

Speaking on Monday, days after announcing his decision not to stand, Cllr Adams described himself as “humbled by the support” he did receive, adding: “I recognised that I didn’t have sufficient support to be elected as leader. I wasn’t an awful lot short, but you have to recognise some things are do-able and some not.

“We had a tough result in the election; that has impacted on the numbers that would support me in council.”

He said the council had significant improvements in performance, but faced the perception it hadn’t.

“Where is that perception? Some parts of the press have played a role in that; certainly blogs and social media have a view that’s evident in terms of that perception of the council. Some of that is understandable, in terms of difficult matters.”

He said that some non-IPPG members of the council had portrayed the group as “some kind of two-headed monster”.

“Ultimately we’re all representatives of our area, we’re elected democratically. That job is to work on behalf of the taxpayer and shake the tree, where appropriate.

“I’m not bitter, I was never precious about retaining the role of leader; in putting my name forward I felt I had more to offer than the other candidate.

“A lot of people confuse the role of leader, it’s not about keeping people happy, it is about being challenging.

“After five years I have a lot of experience that could be given to this council. People have supported change; I will have to use these attributes to hold the new leader to account, and I will do robustly.

“We’ll be a constructive opposition, not the sort we’ve seen in the last five years; we will offer a credible alternative to anything we don’t agree on.”

He said the IPPG’s association with discredited former chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones and his payout may have influenced the group’s electoral results.

“Undoubtedly some sections of the press and members with blogs have decided to drag that scenario out as much as they can.

“You ask yourself: if you were armed with some information ‘would I change anything?’ I would have to say I wouldn’t, that’s not being blasé.

“We had the issue of hitting that issue we had, which we did; some found it unpalatable.”

Reflecting on his tenure, he added: “It would always have been nice to say we didn’t deal with the thorny issues we had, many of them legacy issues. “The fact that I was prepared to take on some of the political footballs like the future of Scolton, the future of county farms and the airport shows I wasn’t afraid to take on those difficult issues. I never shied away from that; they were challenging for sure, you are dealt the hand you are dealt.”

He added: “I’m proud of the 21st Century Schools delivery throughout the county, there’s some fantastic facilities.

“We haven’t shied away from making difficult decisions, probably to our own cost.

“We’ve tried to increase financial capacity by increasing council tax to a level that sustains services.

“I had opportunities to meet with the public around the budget; when you’ve met on those occasions with the public it’s very rare that anything negative gets raised; social media ‘keyboard warriors’ are not coming through on those meetings.

“I’ll be keen that the leader and executive are able to maintain the quality of service that we brought to the residents of the county.”

He warned his replacement: “Don’t think you’re going to be popular, it’s not a role that allows that. You need to be open and honest.”

Cllr Adams’ email stated: “Dear Members, I wish to inform you of my decision to withdraw from the process of election for the council leadership; I recognise that I have insufficient support to gain the position, however I am humbled by those of you who indicated your preference for my continued tenancy in the role.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my term as Leader, embracing the many challenges and I remain proud of the achievements we have gained in improving and evolving services to this great county. I assure you that I will continue my role with diligence until the AGM next week.”